Savannah funk trio AMAR are taking their turn on the Tybee Post Theatre stage for this week’s Quarantine Concert.
The Band AMAR consists of Amar Wilkins on keys and vocals, Dominique Jones on drums, and James Lee Smith on guitar. Smith is a prolific fixture in the Savannah music scene, booking shows with James Lee Smith Entertainment, and lending his guitar skills to several bands and artists including A Nickel Bag of Funk, Liquid Ginger, MainStreet Trio, Jacob Evans, Jarrod White, and The Teal Love Militia.
"I used to play 5 or 6 times a week, but since Covid, I’m happy if I get to play once a week," said Smith.
Smith’s band Voodoo Soup, lead by legendary bassist Eric "Big E" Moore, played a terrific Quarantine Concert a few months ago, so this will be a welcome return for him.
Amar Wilkins caught the attention of Smith when he was 16 years old, and Smith was eager to someday work with the talented young musician.
"We have been playing together almost three years," explained Smith. "I met Amar at House of Blues in Myrtle Beach. I was performing a sold out show with A Nickel Bag Of Funk. Amar was singing back up, and I notice he had a lot of talent. Talking with him after the show he said he played keys and I said we should get together and play sometime. A few year later I had a show and needed a keys player, and drummer, he said I got you, and showed up with Dom.
"Me and Dominique have been playing together since I was 12," Wilkins continued. "We started a group called Smooth N Groove when I was 15. James hit me up one day about a spot that just opened up on MLK (Street) (in) downtown (Savannah) called Prohibition, said he needed a drummer. That was our first gig as a trio.
"With no rehearsal we just played a three hour show together, and from there we became The Band AMAR," Smith added.
Wilkins serves in the U.S. Army when he’s not rehearsing and gigging with AMAR.
"My day job is being an Army Signal Officer during the week, and when I'm not out camping, playing G.I. Joe on the weekends, I gig," said Wilkins. "On Sundays, I serve as the minister of music for my church."
Wilkins cites Bob Marley, Tupak Shakur, and Michael Jackson as his greatest inspirations.
"However most of my sound evolved from listening to D’angelo, Parliament, Prince, Miles Davis, Boyz II Men, Stevie Wonder, and Jimi Hendrix," said Wilkins. "I do write my own originals and I'm currently working on my EP. My sound is a mix of neo-soul/funk, blues-rock, which find its roots out of the church where I developed my musical personality and spirit."
Although AMAR often play crowd pleasing covers like Prince’s "Purple Rain," Chaka Khan’s "Tell Me Something Good," and Jimi Hendrix’s "Little Wing," they will also perform most of their new original material for the first time at the Quarantine Concert.
"It’s going to be a great show," Smith promised. "We are looking forward to it...The production team of Quarantine Concerts are awesome, so we are expecting an awesome top quality show!"