July 12, 2016
For the past seven years, Summer Jam has given local music-lovers a reason to brave the heat and venture out for a night of nonstop music from around the region. The annual music festival is back for an eighth year, but this iteration has a special angle: A farewell tribute to Those Cats, one of Statesboro’s longest-running and best-known bands, which is going on what lead singer Cyril Durant calls an “indefinite hiatus.”
The five-man funk and blues outfit has performed in every Summer Jam since their first appearance in 2011, making this show a fitting end to their Statesboro career before their final two performances in Atlanta and Savannah. Billed as Those Cats & Friends, the headlining group is pulling out all of the stops for their final hometown performance.
Since the band was founded in 2010, Those Cats has gone through several lineup changes and rotating members. William Bridwell, the founder and owner of Airbound Entertainment who took the reins of Summer Jam last year, hinted that the “friends” billed alongside the headliner are likely some of Those Cats’ past bandmates — but he and Durant both declined to spoil the surprise with too many details.
“It’ll be one for the books,” Durant said. “Everyone should make an attempt to be there.”
Complementing Those Cats’ sound is A Nickel Bag of Funk, a funk-rock ensemble based out of Savannah. The group has performed alongside Those Cats several times, and through past local performances, Statesboro listeners are likely already familiar with lead singer Leslie Adele, who Bridwell describes as a “vocal powerhouse.”
“If you see her sing the Fugees’ ‘Killing Me Softly,’ your life will be changed,” he said.
Filling out the set is up-and-coming indie rock band BiRDPERSON, who, having hit the Statesboro scene only last year, will be performing at Summer Jam for the first time. Their pop-rock, almost punkish sound stands in stark contrast to the funky feel of Those Cats and Nickel Bag of Funk, but the variety is far from a weakness in a musical lineup, and Bridwell is using the opportunity both to give BiRDPERSON more local exposure and to introduce Statesboro audiences to the variety of music in Statesboro’s scene. Aaron Cooler, lead singer for BiRDPERSON, said the band is thrilled to have the opportunity.
“We've been fans as long as we've been students here, and when we first started BiRDPERSON one of our major goals was to play a show with Those Cats,” he said. “It's really cool to be able to do it one time before they break up."
And fun fact: In past years, Cooler played trombone with Those Cats for a few gigs.
The eighth annual Summer Jam will be held at South City Tavern on Saturday, July 16, from 8 p.m. to midnight. Tickets are $5 in advance and slightly more at the door as Statesboro music fans gather to send Those Cats out in style.