A bar band in the best sense of the word, Souled American plays music that goes well with large quantities of beer. But that’s not to say they’re just empty-headed fun; rather, they encourage reflection upon parts of the human psyche that normally remain hidden, and which one might well want to drink to forget. The songs are catchy but moody, with any overt lyrical content rendered mysterious by frontman Chris Grigoroff’s evocative mumbling. The sound–nourished by roughly equal infusions of C and W, Louisiana Cajun music, and Jamaican reggae–is hot, humid, swampy, sticky. One senses the dark aroma of cannabis and is encouraged to hallucinate. Months of incessant gigging have gradually turned Souled American into a commanding presence onstage, but for all their bluster they also retain an oddly introverted feel: the presence of the audience almost seems incidental as these four thrash and writhe to shake off whatever private fears possess them. And if that’s not enough to win you over, just dig their bravura reworking of Bob Dylan’s “Girl From the North Country.” Tonight, Orphans, 2462 N. Lincoln; 929-2677. Next Friday, November 6. Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison; 3271662. Next Saturday, November 7, Phyllis’ Musical Inn, 1800 W. Division; 486-9862.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jeff Hamand.