The Hellblinki Sextet
 Savannah Connect 12-11-07


The Hellblinki Sextet

The creepy, Tim Burton-esque brainchild of former Savannah resident Andrew Benjamin, this dark, theatrical and downright addled “Pirate Cabaret” is a mesmerizing mélange of Bertolt Brecht-ian melodrama, boozy, kitchen-sink horn jazz (think John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards trying to drink a German oompah band under the table in a dimly-lit Uzbek brothel bar) and punk-tinged outbursts.

If that sounds hard for you to grasp, then it probably will be.

This is not your average bar band — especially considering they hail from Asheville, N.C. (after forming in Augusta, Ga. a few years back), a beautiful mountain town that’s infinitely more granola and micro-brews than escargot and absinthe. However, if you’re able to turn off that part of your brain that prefers neat rows of easy-to-decipher metaphor and analogy and let thematically-oriented stage shows (read: shtick) wash over you without getting caught up in THE MEANING OF IT ALL, then Hellblinki is an immensely entertaining ride through hell’s trunk room.

Eerie subject matter, diabolical vocal delivery, gruesomely gnashing arrangements and a palpable sense of the Grand Guignol are par for the course with this ultra-indie group who’s won over scores of fans via DIY CDs, internet downloads and a darkly playful and interactive website (

Still in need of a quick and easy take on their multi-faceted mood music? Just after suggesting that the band owed more of a stylistic debt to Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs LP than Sworfishtrombones (as I have often claimed in print), Benjamin offered me this pithy dissection in a recent e-mail: “Three Penny Opera meets Sesame Street, with guerilla operatics, and a southern drawl.”

Smokestack & The Foothill Fury, a sit-down one-man band (beat-up box guitar, kick drum, percussion, etc...) from Dahlonega, Ga. opens with a set of liquor-soaked, self-aware rotgut blues.
Fri., 11 pm, The Jinx.