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Georgia guitar great Jimmy Herring steps up front

Two Hot Nights

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Jimmy Herring is known by friends, fans, and colleagues as a pretty humble guy and an enormously generous musical collaborator of great skill. Over the years, the Georgia-based musician has been in high demand, recording and touring with such jam-rock luminaries as the Allman Brothers Band, the Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh & Friends, and the Aquarium Rescue Unit. He officially joined Widespread Panic in 2006.

This year, Herring actually gets to step away from the sideman role for a few gigs. In support of his new solo debut Lifeboat (Abstract Logix Music), Herring and his new band embarked on a two-week tour through the Southeast last week.

Such a jaunt is a rare accomplishment for the guitarist these days, as he's solidly embedded in the wild and busy world of Panic.

Herring's band features a sturdy, all-star quartet of talented cats. The rhythm section boasts two cool veterans — bassist Oteil Burbridge (Allman Brothers, Aquarium Rescue Unit) and drummer Jeff Sipe (Aquarium Rescue Unit, Jazz Is Dead, Shawn Lane). The backing includes prolific jazz saxophonist Greg Osby and keyboardist Scott Kinsey (of Tribal Tech).

Lifeboat is a rock/fusion collection that meanders from jazz, as on a version of Wayne Shorter's "Lost," to light show tunes, as with "Jungle Book Overture," arranged from music from the 1967 Disney film. Additional players on Lifeboat include Kofi Burbridge (piano, flute) and Matt Slocum (clavinet, piano, organ), and special guest guitarist Derek Trucks.

"It's a shot of adrenaline to get to play with musicians who are pushing the envelope and breaking down the walls that exist between genres of music," Herring says. "Each of these musicians inspires me with every note they play."

At the heart of the band's music is Herring's exploratory and agile guitar work — a sophisticated mix of styles guided with confidence.

The Jimmy Herring Band headlines two evenings in a row at the Pour House (1977 Maybank Hwy., 843-571-4343) on Wed. April 29 and Thurs. April 30. Admission is $25 ($22 advance). Doors open at 7 p.m. Music starts at 9:30 p.m. Visit www.charlestonpourhouse.com and www.myspace.com/jimmyherringofficial for more.

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