Tuck & Patti

In her singing Patti Cathcart plays so many cards–folk and gospel, rock, jazz, and blues, and more recently hip-hop and the oral-percussion techniques of African music–that you might expect her voice to get lost in the shuffle. But Cathcart has such a strong vision, and such a remarkable and versatile instrument, that as fully as she realizes any of these styles they never eclipse her own personality. Her repertoire contains terrific and surprising versions of classic rock–the 1995 album Learning How to Fly includes a charging “Woodstock” and a whimsical “Up From the Skies”–if a few too many “uplifting” songs for my curmudgeonly taste. But that doesn’t qualify my admiration of her all-American virtuosity. She works with only a guitarist for accompaniment, and if it were almost any other guitarist, you’d surmise that Cathcart’s dynamism simply carried them both. But Tuck Andress is a dervish in waiting–he’ll spend much of the set quietly strumming deceptively complex chords and implied polyrhythms, then pin your ears back when the music calls for a blast of pure melody. Together, this husband and wife present some of the most energetically focused music on the pop horizon. And on ballads–on which larger bands often strip down to the rarefied setup that constitutes Tuck & Patti’s entire mise-en-scene–the couple grabs a little slice of heaven. Thursday, July 24, 7:30 PM, Skyline Stage, Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand; 312-595-7437 or 312-559-1212. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Michelle Clement.