Posted inMusic

Ghost Writers

Billy Bragg and Wilco at Guinness Fleadh, Arlington International Racecourse, June 20 By Kevin McKeough For all Woody Guthrie’s standing as a poet laureate of the American spirit, I doubt that the words to “This Land Is Your Land” would have found their way into any English class without the music. And without those words […]

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Pounding on Heaven’s Door

Bob Dylan Metro, December 13 & 14 By Kevin McKeough Death was a good career move for Elvis Presley, Tupac Shakur, and plenty of celebs in between, but as Bob Dylan proved this year, nearly dying is even better. In the months since his hospitalization in May for an inflammation of the sac around his […]

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Clothes Don’t Make the Band

BR5-49 Schubas, January 30 Waco Brothers FitzGerald’s, February 1 By Kevin McKeough Whether you’re talking about the songs of the old south and west or contemporary music that formally resembles those songs, the phrase “traditional country” is fraught with irony: what country could be less traditional than the United States, shaped as it has been […]

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Damaged Characters

Ass Ponys Double Door, June 21 David Lynch looks at small towns and sees their dark side. Chuck Cleaver looks at the dark side of small towns and sees their humanity. Ass Ponys front man Cleaver, who grew up in Clarksville, Ohio (population 300), and now resides in the 2,500-person town of Bethel, is a […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Chris Whitley

When an artist’s music has thrilled and delighted you, you’ll forgive a few missteps, but Chris Whitley sure makes it difficult. He waits more than three and a half years before releasing a follow-up to his glorious debut, Living With the Law, and when he does (Din of Ecstasy, slated for release next month) it […]

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Paul Kelly

Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly, known best (if at all) in this country for his late-80s work with the Messengers, largely avoids depicting the extraordinary in his narratives, character sketches, and moral instructions. Instead he focuses on everyday events and situations: the reappearance of old lovers, the joys of successful partnership and really good sex, clandestine […]

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American Pie

DAVE ALVIN SCHUBAS, SEPTEMBER 7 Dave Alvin isn’t a big man, but his broad shoulders, large head, and rawboned features–and his coarse, bottomless well of a voice–make him an imposing figure. Recording engineers and producers have brought that voice to normal proportions in the studio, but live there’s no containing it. Even on the gentle, […]

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Out With the Boys

ZZ TOP ROSEMONT HORIZON, JULY 29 AEROSMITH WORLD MUSIC THEATRE, AUGUST 6 Ah, testosterone. That ordinary reproductive hormone isn’t just a source of adventure, excitement, and ecstasy; it can also change your musical tastes. Without healthy doses of it–or at least a healthy appreciation for it–you could wind up listening to Counting Crows. With it […]

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Willy DeVille

Willy DeVille is an ace songwriter out of time. In the late 70s and early 80s he fronted Mink DeVille, a tough-as-nails New York outfit that made music that harked back to rock ‘n’ roll’s roots: Phil Spector-ish vignettes of urban romance and no-nonsense, streetwise rock ‘n’ roll with a strong R & B current. […]

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Fear of Riding

** SPEED (Worth seeing) Directed by Jan De Bont Written by Graham Yost With Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Daniels, Sandra Bullock, and Joe Morton. In Speed, the blockbuster hit about a Los Angeles commuter bus wired by a madman to explode if it slows below 50 miles per hour, screenwriter Graham Yost and director […]

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Bruce Cockburn

Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn’s tuneful folk-pop is notable for both its restrained tastefulness and its author’s humane decency. Whether incorporating eclectic world-beat influences (as on his 1980s records) or working from a country-blues foundation with the help of producer T-Bone Burnett (on 1991’s Nothing but a Burning Light and the new Dart to the Heart), […]

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Dark Man

RICHARD THOMPSON RIVIERA, APRIL 1 For a quarter of a century Richard Thompson, the English guitarist and singer-songwriter, has found a powerful form for expressing anger and grief in the centuries-old traditions of Celtic music. When he imbues his work with not only the tradition’s melodic richness, but also its dark poetry of faithless lovers, […]

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Dave Alvin & the Guilty Men

As a solo artist Dave Alvin continues to mine the rich lore of American roots music he first drew on as the songwriter and guitarist for the Blasters–blues, R & B, rockabilly, country, jazz, gospel, and more. He mixes these genres with the relaxed assurance you’d expect from a man who learned his chops from […]