Live Music: The Soulful Congregation; A Motown Christmas; Terraphonics; Aaron Lee Tasjan

Great shows to check out this week


  • Provided

w/ Drivin' N' Cryin' (headliner)
Fri. Nov. 24
8 p.m.
$20/adv., $21.50/door
Charleston Music Hall

It's hard to figure out just what the hell is going on in the music of Aaron Lee Tasjan. On his latest album, Silver Tears, it sometimes sounds as if Gram Parsons stumbled into a late '60s Beatles recording session. There's some country twang in the album's opening track, "Hard Life," but there's also a kitchen-sink production aesthetic that throws in a box full of auxiliary percussion, Randy Newman-style piano runs, and a ridiculously wanky wah-wah guitar sound, and that's before the horns come in. Then Tasjan dives straight into a shimmering, psychedelic stomp called "Little Movies" that brings on the Mellotron and watery backing vocals. And that's followed by a ballad that's a dead ringer for the early Eagles. So, there's a lot happening here, but there's something entrancing about it. Like the gaudy, blinding Nudie-on-'shrooms suit that Tasjan wears on the cover, this music is outlandish, beautiful, and genuinely hard to classify. —Vincent Harris FRIDAY

EDIT: There are no horns on "Hard Life;" rather it was in "Out of My Mind" that some low-in-the-mix horns appeared and added to the overall production aesthetic.

SOUL | A Motown Christmas
w/ The Motown Experience
Sat. Nov. 25
8 p.m.
Charleston Music Hall

The Motown Experience returns to Charleston to ring in the holiday season with a night of early soul hits. The Motown Experience is a vocal group consisting of members of legendary Motown Records acts, namely George Wilson (The Capitols), Dave Finley (The Miracles), Charles Franklin (The Temptations), and Condido Lomax, who has migrated from group to group over his career. The groups' "Motown Christmas" performances have consistently been a hit with crowds around the country, primarily through the Motown Experience's ability to cross Christmas carols with hopping Motown sounds. Last year's show almost sold out the Charleston Music Hall, and the group's promoter Ben Hart promises more of the same for this year. He says, "When the band goes into traditional Christmas carols backed by Motown tracks, it's just so much fun for everyone." The show is about 70-percent Motown songs, while the rest is either traditional Christmas carols with a Motown style or songs where the group sings Christmas songs everyone loves over Motown rhythms. You can expect to hear tunes from all the big Motown names, such as the Temptations, the Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson. —Alex Peeples SATURDAY

  • Michael Campina

SOUL | The Soulful Congregation
w/ Terraphonics, Cliche & The Idioms, Get With It, Elise Testone, and more
Sat. Nov. 25
9 p.m.
$10/adv, $12/door
Pour House

Keyboardist Rodrick Cliche is putting a Thanksgiving dinner together. "The entrees on the menu are jazz, folk, rock, hip-hop, experimental," says Cliche. And, just like a Thanksgiving meal, there's going to be a lot of it, with a lot of people. Cliche's giant collaboration, titled the Soulful Congregation, comprises artists from along the East Coast, ranging from Toronto to Florida. Cliche wants it known that the members of the Soulful Congregation are not just the musicians on stage, but everyone in attendance. "The intent is for everyone to contribute to the moments of magic, peace, love, and celebration that we will experience that night," he says. Some of the artists travelling for this Thanksgiving shindig are vocalist Jermaine Holmes from New Jersey, bassist Ernest Priester of North Carolina, and New York guitarist Marcus Machado. The Congregation was built from D'Angelo & the Vanguard. "As we've been working on individual projects and collaborating together, we formed the group to perform and support each other's material," says Cliche. The keyboardist's blues/experimental band the Idioms will also perform, alongside electro-funk group Get With It and world/R&B instrumentalists Terraphonics. Cliche says the commonality between the groups is "soul music, and the spirit of love and unity." —Heath Ellison SATURDAY

  • Jonathan Boncek file

WORLD BEAT | Terraphonics
w/ Matt Monday, Damn Skippy, J. Vive
Wed. Nov. 29
10 p.m.
$10, $5 with Dead on Deck wristband
Pour House

Fresh off their CPMA win in the R&B category, Terraphonics doesn't show any sign of stopping. The band, led by composer/producer Thomas Kenney, will continue their Sample Jam series with mainstays Damn Skippy and J. Vive, along with recent collaborator Matt Monday. "I'll be remixing samples that I've recorded and used in Terraphonics songs, as well as pulling from my sample library," says Kenney. "That means anything from Flying Lotus and Busta Rhymes to traditional Malian griot music or Persian string ensembles." The MCs will freestyle bars over freestyled samples, as per usual. This Sample Jam comes right after the release of Terraphonics' collaboration with Monday, titled "After the Blast." As is expected at this point, both artists brought their A-game on the track. Terraphonics' signature world flare and rap drums are a solid foil for Monday's social statement lyricism. "Sixty-five percent of my people have done time/ all by design/ but they blame gun crime," he raps. The importance of words like those are likely to carry over onto the stage, along with the fun side of hip-hop. With this and future Sample Jams, Kenney hopes to continue the tradition of "tapping into that spirit of the jazz and hip-hop tradition, as well as celebrating other cultures of the world." —Heath Ellison WEDNESDAY

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