Tryin' to Survive at 75
Drink Small Boogie
The ever-soulful "blues doctor" lays it all down on this new studio collection. The 10-song Tryin' to Survive at 75 is remarkable — a no-frills, from-the-gut, autobiography full of humor, sadness, and advice on livin' right. Recorded "direct-to-disc" at the Jam Room in Columbia last fall, the mid-fi quality fits Small's gritty style of guitar blues, and leaves plenty of room for his rich, raspy, and rumbling singing (his colleague Shrimp City Slim defines it as "an inimitable basso profundo voice") and foot-tappin'. Loosely presented in storyteller style and chronological order — from the kick-off track "Bishopville Is My Hometown" through the 11-minute title track — Tryin' to Survive at 75 not only reveals the singer's live experiences, but his resoundingly positive spirit and strong faith throughout. Recommended tracks include the funky "Drink Small Boogie" (in which he name-drops John Lee Hooker ... "He was a boogie man like I am!"), the sweetly Orbisonic ballad of "When You Tell One Lie, You Gotta Tell Another," and the bouncy "Don't Bump My Stacy Adams Shoes" (his answer to Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes"). Drink's guitar picking and strumming may strike newcomers as a bit sloppy, but it's perfect with these songs. At one point, he sings that he can "make one guitar sound like two." On his vintage wooden-body acoustic six-string, he certainly bangs out enough noisy groove to fill every song — stray notes and all. It's the real deal and loads of down-home fun. (www.drinksmallblues.com) —T. Ballard Lesemann
Drink Small performs at 2 p.m. on Sun. May 3 at the North Charleston Cultural Arts Festival.
to go under or as if under water
The gurgle of water boiling on the stove, the snippy snaps of a busy pair of scissors, the chirping of birds, a scratchy piece of vinyl skipping on a turntable in the next room, a nasally recitation of strongly visual phrases, the repetitive patterns of a simulated kick drum, a helicopter hovering in the distance, the droning arppegiation of an open electric guitar chord, the whispery nodding off during an announcement, a chipmunk-voiced smart-ass character ... these are just a few of the fascinating and sometimes sultry sounds and words on local poet, writer, designer, and musician Marcus Amaker's latest home-recorded album. (www.marcusamaker.com) —T. Ballard Lesemann
Run Dan Run
27 Coming St.
Points of Departure
Hearing his dozy voice from song to song, Dan McCurry sounds like he's either on the verge of completely konking out or just in the first sleepy-eyed moments of waking up on most of this airy, romantic, melancholic five-song collection. Compared to 2007's slow-rolling debut Basic Mechanics, the vocalist, songwriter, and keyboardist's Run Dan Run ensemble achieve an even more misty atmosphere here on the home-recorded 27 Coming St. — from the whispery opening track "Wasted Love" to the mesmeric, piano-driven "Philosophies of Old Men" to the relatively upbeat "Points of Departure." Drummer Nick Jenkins' brush and mallet work pushes most of the songs, while McCurry's ringy piano and Ash Hopkins' light acoustic guitar hover above. The happily meandering violin lines from Erin McKinley add texture, matching McCurry's drowsy singing style quite nicely. (www.rundanrunband.com) —T. Ballard Lesemann
Run Dan Run opens for the Explorers Club at the Village Tavern at 10 p.m. on Sat. April 4.
Hot Saturday Night
Most songwriters maintain a private stock of songs, ones that require a bit of patience for the right moment to catch them up. Upstate S.C. songwriter Carroll Brown's latest release is that patience rewarded. Here, the Elgin-based singer/guitarist digs deep into his catalog, offering a baker's dozen of tunes. Some date back to his earliest days as a professional songwriter, effectively making this album a mini-retrospective of Brown's work as a solo and collaborative tunesmith. There's even a bit of each song's history included in the CD's lyric insert. From the bouncy album opener "Hot Saturday Night" to the lush and lyrical "Don't Be a Stranger," Songwriter demonstrates why Brown has been a consistent crowd-pleaser. These songs have proven themselves over the years, and, as a result, the album achieves a very polished vibe all the way through to the stealthy bonus track. Songwriter is an illuminating collection: one that spans decades yet feels fresh and wide-ranging. (www.carrollbrownmusic.com) —Jon Santiago
Carroll Brown performs a solo set at Dunleavy's Pub on Sullivan's Island at 8 p.m. on Sun. April 5.