Live Music: John Mayer, Bob Schneider, Southern Culture on the Skids, Jacob Johnson

Great live music to check out this week


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w/ Rushton Kelly
Wed. Dec. 18
9 p.m.
$15/adv., $20/door
Pour House

It’s never been entirely clear just what kind of artist Bob Schneider really wants to be. He’s worn a variety of hats the last 15 years — snarky jam groovester, world-wizened folk troubadour, frat-rock funkster, peppy bar rocker, jazzy adult pop crooner, and literate heartland balladeer. That he could be such an accomplished milliner without completely losing the thread is a testament to both his breathy baritone and relaxed, confident delivery. Over time it’s coalesced into a sound that’s definably his own, with an audience to match. Whether you like his choices or not, they’ve always been his own, and he’s developed a following willing to accommodate his changing styles. There are times on his latest, Burden of Proof, where it’s unclear if Schneider’s been kidnapped by Damon Gough, the ornate, Beatles-obsessed songwriter behind Badly Drawn Boy. The album’s more layered and produced than anything he’s attempted to date, with string sections dropping down from the wings, rich cello accents, grandiose piano ballads, and even a dancey soul-pop ode to lost love and “John Lennon.” At times it’s too Burt Bacharach for its own good, but Schneider’s breezy manner and succinct songs (one over four minutes, half under three) keeps it from feeling too overblown. —Chris Parker NEXT WEDNESDAY


DOUCHE ROCK | John Mayer
w/ Phillip Phillips
Thurs. Dec. 12
7 p.m.
North Charleston Coliseum

Around a half-dozen years ago John Mayer decided success was synonymous with appearing on TMZ. What followed were high profile interviews and tweets dotted with off-color and un-PC jokes/inane proclamations/observations that vacillated widely between “amusing” and “what a douche,” all while Mayer filled his days by stalking every Tinseltown starlet capable of breathing through her nose. The only studio album released during this time, Battle Studies, traffics in his predictable soul-folk lover-man persona, which like a pick-up line, works on some and fails on others. Last year’s more earnest, Laurel Canyon-flavored Born & Raised was a reminder that when Mayer closes his mouth for a minute and stops humping the furniture he makes pretty good music, a fact that years of star-whoring have overshadowed. His latest Paradise Valley sounds like a second plea for forgiveness as he hops the chugging Americana train, which happens to be a great vehicle for songs of humility. But humble’s not a pie he’s used to eating. So when he pleads on “Dear Marie,” “Remember me, I’m the boy you used to love when you were 15, now I wonder what you think when you see me in a magazine,” it’s hard to tell if he’s being earnest, meta, or just working a marketing angle. I’m not sure he even knows. —Chris Parker THURSDAY


WHITE TRASH ROCK | Southern Culture on the Skids
w/ the Malamondos
Sat. Dec. 14
9 p.m.
$15/adv., $17/door
Pour House

Would you know a guitar legend if he was your neighbor? Because beneath Rick Miller’s vintage Hawaiian shirt, straw hat, and glasses lies one of the finest country-surf rockabilly guitarists in all the land. Only White’s little white Mephistophelean goatee is a giveaway to his six-string powers as the leader of Southern Culture on the Skids. He lives in the sticks almost 30 minutes outside Chapel Hill, N.C., and it’s with love that he sends up the perilous hairstyles (“Liquored Up and Lacquered Down”), outré cuisine (“Bannana Puddin’,” “Carve the Possum”), and peculiarities (“’69 El Camino,” “My Neighbor Burns Trash”) of white trash culture. The current trio — with stately beauty/bassist Mary Huff and sure-footed drummer Dave Hartman — has been around for 10 of the band’s 11 studio LPs. The latest Dig This is a complete re-recording of their fine ’94 disc Ditch Diggin’, their last release before a two-album mid-’90s run on Geffen. It features the amusing surfabilly ode “Chicken Shit Farmer,” the searing instrumental rave-up “Muddbuggy,” and a particularly groovy take on crowd favorite, “Too Much Pork for Just One Fork.” The albums are fun, but SCOTS’ live shows are a madcap family reunion with plenty of beer — and fried chicken. —Chris Parker SATURDAY


Thurs. Dec. 12
9 p.m.
Home Team BBQ

Jacob Johnson’s grandmother played guitar back in the ’40s with country legends Ernest Tubb and Hank Snow. She also taught young Jacob all he ever needed to know about the six string. “Jacob, if you only ever learn these three chords, you’ll always be able to pick up a guitar and play music for people,” Johnson recalls. “She really instilled in me what a gift it was to be able to play for people.” Over the years, this indie folkster has gotten the opportunity to tour with guitar great Tommy Emmanuel and banjo master Charles Wood. Johnson’s latest, Wild and Sweet: A Christmas Album, actually features a track with Wood. “There’s a lot of bad Christmas music out there, and I think that’s because holiday/Christmas albums are forced a lot of the time,” Johnson says. Wild and Sweet features some older traditional songs like “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” as well as contemporary classics like “White Christmas” and “Linus and Lucy.” Johnson took the month of November off from the road to prepare for the album release, but now he’s ready to rock the road. “Traveling does make the season come and go quicker, and it’s difficult not getting to see my friends and family as much as I would like over the holidays, but it’s my job. And it really is a huge blessing to be a part of peoples’ holidays,” he says. —Kalyn Oyer THURSDAY


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