A collision of alt-country vixen Lindi Ortega’s snappy sass and Dusty Springfield’s soul-baring belting, Rachel Kate piqued interest as lead vocalist of Charleston’s rail-jumping, rollicking (and now defunct) rock ’n’ roll outfit Shaniqua Brown. Her 2013 debut solo LP With Love & Hate ditches the raw guitars and radical rhythms of SB for a stripped-down but still-intense mix of accordion, jangly acoustic guitar, shuffling drums and richly sawing cello. The result is like sweet tea spiked with ’shine, a concoction of sizzling ‘n’ sleazy Delta blues, fragile country waltzes, Nick Cave’s spindled and mutilated murder ballads, the hazy goth afterburn of Lee Hazlewood and a nostalgically sunny down-home tune penned by her father, Dave Gillon. Singing about optimism and rejuvenation along with “crybabies” and “somber assholes,” Kate splits her solo disc between paeans to love and outpourings of anger. Taking the stage in tattoos and a hand-sewn country craft dress, Rachel Kate evokes the hardscrabble Americana folk of Gillian Welch, the cow-punk tension of Cary Ann Hearst and the classic theatrical country of Patsy Cline. No paper-thin drama queen, Rachel Kate has plenty of authentic brass and compassion.
Though boxed in by descriptors like “doom pop” and “bubblegum metal,” Miami’s heaviest, most harmonious foursome Torche have refused to stand still. Boasting vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks’ patented (and gimmicky) “bomb-string” assault — guitars down-tuned so low that the strings practically dangle off the bridge — Torche has evolved from the low, viscous roar and grimy-massed guitars of the Melvins in its sludge metal phase to a still-blistering attack that folds the shiny “Mr. Showbiz” pop-smarts of David Lee Roth into a surprisingly stable mix of ’90s Green River grunge, ’70s bong-water backwash from stoner forebears like Lord Baltimore, and the space-rock of Hawkwind. The acrimonious 2008 departure of guitarist Juan Montoya seems to have unleashed the pop-metal tune-smith in Brooks, with brisk, perky songs slicing through the tar pits, delivered in Brooks’ appealing everyman bellow. Current buzz cut “Kicking” marries the muscular mod rock of early Futureheads to bright and squiggly Eddie Van Halen-meets-Brian May guitars. Perhaps Brooks’ decided his best way forward is embracing his inner Diamond Dave.
Santa and his associates are an open book in David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries. The essay turned one-man seasonal stage fare made its jolly debut on an NPR broadcast. In the midst of classic holiday material, this tale polishes the ugly side of Christmas as seen through the eyes of an unemployed writer working as an elf at a department store. Yes, it sounds terrible, and yes, it is, as we learn through our protagonist’s experiences, loathing and gradual loss of pride. But listen closer to the deadpan delivery from the man with pointy ears and little green shoes and you’ll feel the full effect of Sedaris’ critique on consumer culture. This is something we tend to forget while shoving our way through the mall and swiping our plastic. Robin Tynes directs and Scott A. Miller stars as Santa’s pissy and pessimistic little helper. For more information on Three Bone Theatre, visit www.threebonetheatre.com. (Anita Overcash) $20
Featuring: Rick Speitzer - PJ Brunson - Freddie Wilson held in the round upstairs in the intimate listening room Free
Written by noted humorist David Sedaris, THE SANTALAND DIARIES is a brilliant evocation of what it's like to work as an elf in Macy's. This hilarious one-man, one-act play is the perfect antidote to the overwhelming sugary sweetness of the holiday season. Presented by Three Bone Theatre Directed by Robin Tynes Starring Scott Miller $20
3rd Annual Lunch with Santa. Come bring the kids to enjoy lunch with Santa from 11am-2pm! Event includes 2 slices of Pizza or 2 hot dogs, 1 fountain drink, 10 arcade tokens and a photo with Santa! Space is limited so call 704-552-7888 today or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make your reservations. $6.99/child
FAT FACE BAND
The Fat Facers feature three of the city’s better musical minds in a super-group of sorts. Trumpeter Matt Postle, tuba sensation Molly Jay and axe-slinger Troy Conn all exhibit the requisite chops on their respective instruments, and the unlikely instrumentation typically draws an initial “Hey, look at that crazy combo” reaction. But without the ability to mesh all that together into a cogent and compelling whole, none of that would matter a whit. Thankfully, the trio is fluent in the language of improv, turning simple onion skins into coherent musical conversations with each other. Unlike many current free-formers, though, the trio tethers their improv flights to melody and rhythm, relying on the contrast to provide the goods — which it does.
Since their founding in 2004, members of HRVRD — originally spelled Harvard — have been setting a standard in the local scene for musicianship and songwriting. In an environment that often seems more defined by short runs and relocations than staying power, HRVRD has lasted, stayed local and at the same time broken out into the wider world. This year, the members released the album From the Bird’s Cage on Albany, N.Y.,-based label Equal Vision Records. It continues the band’s tight, yet atmospheric sonic experimentations, but this time with an even more focused edge. HRVRD hasn’t entirely abandoned its progressive roots, but they are certainly less pronounced in the band’s latest effort. The songs are more driving and intense, but one imagines them loosening and flexing a bit in live versions. However they’re presented, you will be seeing one of the finer outfits our local music scene has created during this past decade.