Rugged Americana songwriter Alejandro Escovedo — formerly of San Francisco punk band The Nuns, N.Y. band Rank & File, and Austin, Texas band The True Believers — headlines a big show at the Music Farm on Thurs. Jan. 22. He and his band are touring behind the strong new album Real Animal (Back Porch), produced by Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T. Rex, Thin Lizzy). Back Porch describes his ninth solo LP as "a collective journey through Escovedo's various musical incarnations from punk rock to string quintets and is as introspective as it is retrospective." Visit www.musicfarm.com and www.alejandroescovedo.com for more.
SPOLETO JAZZ 2009
Spoleto Festival USA's forthcoming Wachovia Jazz Series features another impressive lineup this year. Jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton and "a band of stellar musicians" swing through elegant sets at the Cistern on Fri. May 22 and Sat. May 23. French violinist Florin Niculescu (of Biréli Lagrène's Gipsy Project), an acclaimed jazz/classical player with deep gypsy roots, makes his U.S. debut at the Cistern on Sun. May 24. Jake Shimabukuro, a young Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso (and rock/pop fan) who has "single-handedly transformed the ukulele from a traditional Hawaiian instrument into a source of unlimited musical possibilities," plays at the Cistern on Sat. May 30. Italian pianist and composer Ramberto Ciammarughi — a musician known for his original compositions, amazing technique, fiery playing style, and "improvisations of remarkable clarity and dynamism" — stole the show last year at the Cistern while playing in saxophonist Stefano "Cocco" Cantini's combo. He makes his solo U.S. debut with six concerts at the Simons Center starting on May 25. Jazz vocalist René Marie and her trio (featuring Charleston-based jazz drummer Quentin Baxter) provided one of the highlights of the 2007 Wachovia Jazz series. She returns to the Gaillard on Fri. June 5 in support of a new album Voice of My Beautiful Country. Call (843) 579-3100 and visit www.spoletousa.org for more.
SWEET HOME MIAMI
Last week, local hard-rock trio Leslie took time away from their recent recording sessions at the Memphis studio where they're working on their new album with producer Paul Ebersold to venture down to Florida and perform as part of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Simple Man Cruise. They played three gigs on the cruise, which launched from Miami — two in the Criterion Lounge and one on the Lido Deck. Sounds like a loud episode of Love Boat. Their forthcoming EP is due this spring. See www.simplemancruise.com and www.lesliemusic.com for more.
BUELLER ... BUELLER...
There's a newly formed '80s party band on the scene. Bueller (a band name referring to the 1986 flick Ferris Bueller's Day Off, perhaps?) makes its debut at the Windjammer on Sat. Jan. 24. The group is comprised of keyboardist Jim Hall (ex-MacDaddy), drummer/singer Jim Ratcliffe (MacDaddy, PartyMouth, Zero to Never), bassist/singer Jeff Calafiore (formerly of Sold Out and Joy Ride, currently with Zero to Never), guitarist Joe Bueller, and singer Margie Nelson. Check www.buellerrocks.com for more.
METAL, TWANG AT WET WILLIE'S
Downtown slushy booze bar and live music venue Wet Willie's (209 East Bay St.) says the new "Metal Monday" series is off to a strong start (see Scene on p. 63). The club's new booking agent Ryan Gleason (of Columbia-based Solid Entertainment) has been scheduling a mix of local and upstate strummers and bands this season. One of the stand-out gigs on this week's list is Ed & Will Lemon, a twangy and melodic garage/roots-rock duo from the Barnwell/Columbia corridor. They play in a band called The Get Rights. The latest album Out There sounds like a garage-rock band imitating Crazy Horse covering Boston mid-tempo at a twang fest in Memphis. They perform at 10 p.m. on Wed. Jan. 14 (City Paper foodie Jeff Allen recommends them!). Visit www.myspace.com/wetwilliescharleston for more gig info.
MUSIC & OYSTERS
The fourth annual Music and Oysters for Wildlife benefit — an oyster roast, cook-out, and concert on the edge of Francis Marion National Forest — features live music from Jeff Norwood, Cravin' Melon, The Whisperjets, The Blue Dogs, Danielle Howle, Ed & Sarah Hunnicutt, and others. The event takes place at the Seewee Outpost (4853 N. Hwy. 17 in Awendaw) from 2-6 p.m. on Sat. Jan. 17 (see City Pick on p. 26). Next week, the Charleston Restaurant Association and Boone Hall Plantation present the 26th Annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival on Sun. Jan. 25 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Boone Hall (1235 Long Point Road). The event features several sets from singer/guitarist David Landeo and his band. A portion of the proceeds benefit several Lowcountry charities, including the Ronald McDonald House and the Hollings Cancer Center. Advance tickets cost $10 each. See www.charlestonrestaurantassociation.com for more. —T. Ballard Lesemann