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West Recovered, Swift & Fearless, Hearst Ends Run, Orrin Starr, Battle of the Bands

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WEST RECOVERED AND READY

After a bit of a hiatus this year, the Kevin West Band — led by singer/guitarist Kevin West — is back in action and set to perform at the Pour House on Wed. Feb. 25. "My voice has finally recovered from surgery I had on my vocal chords," West tells us. "I also have a bunch of new material." This week's gig is West's first time headlining the Pour House. He'll be joined by several special guests, including sax man Louis "Louie D" Dixson, Brittney Linder, and Ace & O.C., who specialize in delivering 'tude-heavy, nasty-funkin' sets of dub and rhymes. O.C. — a.k.a Michael West — just happens to be Kevin's kid brother. Local combo Suspicious Package — with A.C. (Alex "Ace" Carpenter) on the mic, alongside bassist/keyboardist Daniel Walker, sax/keys man Alan Brisendine, and drummer Karl Anderson — handle a blend of funk, hip-hop, and jazz fusion in an opening set. Visit www.kevinwestmusic.com for more.

SWIFT & FEARLESS

Contemporary country songstress, Big Machine recording artist, and recent Rolling Stone cover girl Taylor Swift leads her Fearless Tour 2009 to the North Charleston Coliseum on Thurs. April 30. The venue's management tells us it will feature "an incredibly theatrical presentation of graphics, sets, and visual elements designed by Taylor herself." American Idol finalist Kellie Pickler, a close pal of Swift's, will play an opening set in support of a current single, "The Best Day." Swift's sophomore album Fearless has sold more than 2.4 million copies since its release in November of last year. She recently topped Nielsen SoundScan's all-genre year-end music sales report as 2008's top-selling artist. The Fearless Tour 2009 visits 52 cities in 38 states and provinces across North America over the span of six months. Tickets go on sale Fri. Feb. 27 at 10 a.m. via the box office, Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at (843) 554-6060, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.

HEARST ENDS RUN AT ART'S (FOR NOW)

Concluding a weekly series of Thursday night gigs that began last August, celebrated local singer/guitarist Cary Ann Hearst and a Fedora-wearing singer/guitarist Michael Trent (of The Films) will perform one more show at Mt. Pleasant venue Art's Bar & Grill (413 Coleman Blvd.) on Thurs. Feb. 26. (Actually, Trent may still be out of town preparing for a Films tour, supporting Butch Walker along the East Coast in March). Either way, Hearst will be there, ready to handle tipsy hecklers, armed with a sturdy set of originals, hillbilly classics, blues tunes, country hits, and rockabilly songs. Visit www.myspace.com/cahearstandmichaeltrent for more.

STARR AT HUNGRY MONK

Orrin Starr — an award-winning guitar, banjo, and mandolin player, author, and teacher based in Washington D.C. — performs a set of bluegrass and variety at Hungry Monk Music (1948 Belgrade Ave. in West Ashley) at 7:30 p.m. on Fri. Feb. 27. Starr won the 1976 National Flatpicking Championship (the largest bluegrass guitar contest in the country). When he's not doing solo gigs, he plays with his band Orrin Star & The Sultans of String. Look for his recordings on Flying Fish Records. Admission for Friday night's show is $12. An additional private workshop from Starr is set for Sat. Feb. 28 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. as well. Visit www.orrinstar.com and www.hungrymonkmusic.com for more.

MARCH MADNESS: BATTLE OF THE BANDS ON THE HORIZON

Nope, it's not the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament that has longtime booking agent, sound man, and local musician Stuart "All Night" Johnson (of local band Allnightkungfu) all excited, there's another kind of "March Madness." In 2006, Johnson arranged a month's worth of March Madness Battle of the Bands rounds at A Dough Re Mi in Mt. Pleasant. The rounds went well, with a wild variety of mostly metal, punk, and indie-rock acts belting it out in front of staffers and guests who judged their stage presence, musicianship, audience reaction, and professionalism. The contest became an annual event and relocated to the Village Tavern in 2007. Johnson announced the fourth annual March Madness Battle of the Bands dates a few weeks ago. This year's contest also includes the "Promo Challenge" in which the bands are to be judged by their press kit/promotional skills. Judged by local characters, the locally-based, four-round series takes place on the Tavern stage for three straight weekends in March, starting on March 6-7 with performances from Tripping the Mechanism, She's A Princess, Tenfifty, From This Day Forward, Red House, Cole Train, Collectors Set, and Campfield. The "grand finale" is scheduled for Sat. March 28. Visit www.myspace.com/battlespot and Music Board for more. —T. Ballard Lesemann

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