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Dave Lavender: Night Sky Entertainment signs two regional bands

Jan. 22, 2009 @ 08:25 PM

To pull a Big '80s A-Team quote out of the hat, "I love it when a plan comes together."

Last week, I got an e-mail from Nashville-based, West Virginia native Doretta Pugh Osburn that her Night Sky Entertainment (which also manages Redding Brothers and Gabriel) just signed Bug out of Charleston and Fletcher's Grove, the five-person jam band out of Hurricane and Winfield.

Saturday, we clunked our ski boots up to the Fireside Grille at Timberline Four Seasons Ski Resort in Davis, W.Va., and lo and behold, four hours from home, Fletcher's Grove was getting its two-drummer-driven, Garcia-approved groove on.

Made up of Ryan Krofcheck, Matt Marion, Wes Hager, Taylor Pratt and Adam Green, Fletcher's Grove filters its tunes whether original or covers (Phish, Rusted Root, Grateful Dead) through a melodic Dead-fed roots blend that's nothing but a peaceful, easy festival feeling in the ears.

That blend only gets better when part-time singer, Jenn Billups steps to the mic.

Go online at www.myspace.com/fletchersgrovewv to check out a handful of the band's original songs.

Honky tonk 'n' roll

Shamrocks Pub goes honky tonk 'n' rolling at 9 p.m. today as The Dirty Coal River Band, who was last seen and heard in our fair city backing up Jesco White, The Dancing Outlaw at a sold-out show at Shamrocks in '08, is back in the house.

The band's founder, Jay Hill, who has been backing up White at gigs around the country (including the one last year when they got booted out of the Ryman Auditorium), said things are moving like a spring flood for the band that's finishing its CD, which is fueled with equal parts, honky tonking, folk-rocking and bluegrassing.

Like it was when Jesco was here, the band will be taped by Jason Dobbins of J.D. Film Productions, out of the Clarksburg/Morgantown area.

Dobbins is working on a full-length documentary about the band, which will have special guest and sessions player Brandon Shuping sitting in with them on mandolin and banjo.

Go online at www.myspace.com/thedirtycoalriverband to get a slice of Boone County's best made up of Hill, Joey Dehart on bass, Joe Nichols on guitar and Josh Hager on drums.

War Eagle and Richie Tipton also are on tonight's bill at Shamrocks.

Brazilian beats to the H-Town streets

With temperatures hitting less than zero, it's somewhat of a mid-winter night's dream to think that someone would have the wisdom to book, oh, I don't know, one of the best pop artists ever out of Brazil to heat up the 40th annual Marshall University Winter Jazz Festival.

Yes, it's only a week before the Marshall Artists Series presents the Grammy-winning pianist, bandleader and composer Sergio Mendes at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31. He'll bring in his Brazilian beats and sexy sambas to heat up Marshall University's Winter Jazz Festival at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.

It's not a scientific study but about 1.5 seconds after I tossed in Mendes' "Timeless" CD (that he cooked up with Black Eyed Peas producer/songwriter will.i.am), my 6-year-old son, Will, broke out into a full-bore dance fit, getting down on the kitchen floor, break dancing to Mendes' hit "Mas Que Nada."

That spirit of feeling the music in every fiber of your body definitely pervades Mendes' infectious blends of rhythm and melody matched up with the additional energy of new artists such as Jill Scott, Fergie, John Legend, The Roots and others that Mendes and will.i.am gathered for "Timeless" and their latest collaborative effort, "Encanto."

At the Winter Jazz Festival, Mendes joins a who's who of jazz musicians from Clark Terry, Arturo Sandoval and the Count Basie Orchestra that have played the festival that was started by the late Marshall professor J.D. Folsom. Folsom founded the Marshall Jazz Ensemble.

If you only know Mendes through his 1983 hit "Never Gonna Let You Go," let me say a ticket buy is not even a gamble as Mendes has been on the scene in America since 1964, a decade when he was the top-selling Brazilian artist and still cooking up his music spicy and hot.

Tickets for Mendes, who won a Grammy for his album "Brasileiro," are $60 and $45 and youth (17 and under) are $30 and $22.50.

Groups of 10 or more may receive a 10-percent discount.

Tickets may be purchased through the Marshall Artists Series box office, located in the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center, or by calling 304-696-6656 or 304-523-5757.

Read an interview with Mendes in the Sunday Life section of The Herald-Dispatch. If you're the first person to call me at 304-526-6686 and tell me what famous Swiss-based jazz festival the Marshall University 12.0 Jazz Ensemble has been selected to perform at in 2009, then I'll get you copies of both "Encanto" and "Timeless."

Dave Lavender writes about music for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-6686 or via e-mail at lavender@herald-dispatch.com.

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