Friday, Jan. 12
West End String Band
Smiley’s Acoustic Café
111 Augusta St., Greenville
The veteran Greenville bluegrass quintet West End String Band suffered a terrible loss last year when banjo player and tenor vocalist Jim Rollins died in a car crash. Rollins was a powerful vocalist, an expert player, and a beloved music scene fixture, and it would’ve been understandable if the group decided not to continue after his death. But singer/guitarist Charlie McDaniel says that’s not what Rollins would’ve wanted.
“Jimmy was a trooper,” McDaniel says. “He would’ve wanted us to keep playing shows, because he never missed a show. He’d see other bands lose members and go fill in for guys because he knew you don’t call off a show.”
The band has played with fill-in banjo players and done shows as a four-piece, and McDaniel says they’ve had to make some adjustments to their sound. “We decided we weren’t going to get another regular banjo player right away,” McDaniel says. “We have material that we can play without a banjo, and some of those tunes that Jimmy sang we just don’t mess with anymore.” –Vincent Harris
Friday, Jan. 12
Tides In Transit w/ Dead Swells and The Apartment Club
110 Poinsett Highway, Greenville
Last year, the Greenville sextet Tides In Transit released five singles that displayed such a wide range of styles that you’d be forgiven for not realizing they were all done by the same band. They played everything from tricky mid-’80s-Rush-style time signatures (“Me & Monogamy”) to straightforward anthems (“The Words”) to synth-spiked progressive rock (“Lady In White”) to electronic funk-rock (“Slightly Dirty”), with only Matt Dubuc’s passionate vocals uniting them.
And Dubuc says those singles were specifically designed to showcase the band’s versatility. “We all kind of come from different backgrounds musically speaking, and they’re all completely different-sounding songs,” he says. “One of my favorite things about this band is that the influences are so diverse.”
With that display of their range out of the way, Dubuc says the next step for the band is a concept album that ties all the disparate threads together. “The concept itself is still under wraps,” he says, “but I want the sound to be a lot more cohesive on our next release.” –Vincent Harris
Thursday, Jan. 18
Miranda Lambert w/ Jon Pardi and Brent Cobb
Bon Secours Wellness Arena
650 N. Academy St., Greenville
Miranda Lambert already has the “commercial success” part covered in country music. Since her career caught fire with 2005’s “Kerosene” (which featured huge hit singles with the title track, “Bring Me Down,” and “New Strings”), Lambert has been country’s platinum queen, scoring four million-selling albums in a row during an era where full-length records don’t move as much as they used to.
But with 2016’s double-album “The Weight of These Wings,” Lambert went for something more and succeeded in spades. The 24-track epic expanded Lambert’s rough-and-tumble twang into atmospheric acoustic folk (“Tin Man”), funky minimalism (“We Should Be Friends”), old-school sweeping balladry (“To Learn Her”), and gritty, distorted rock (“Pink Sunglasses”). And in addition to going platinum (again), “The Weight of These Wings” garnered some serious critical acclaim, landing on the year-end Best Of lists in Entertainment Weekly, Billboard, Rolling Stone, SPIN, and Variety, while picking up an Academy of Country Music Award for Album Of The Year, to boot. –Vincent Harris