Saturday, September 02, 2006

Another show review rescued from the Stygian cache!

Al Rose + Doug Hoesktra, 9/2: I write about music for the satisfaction of finding good stuff (well, and to see my bullshit in print, but I could do that in other fields, I guess), and here are two songwriters who make the search worthwhile. Rose's latest album, Gravity Of Crow, begins with a few muted guitar chords and gentle verses, then explodes into an hour of playful fascination. It must be good because it was about 1:30 am when I first put on and I stayed up for the whole thing. At Mother Fool's, Rose was accompanied by Madison songwriter/guitarist Maury Smith, yielding a crazy hour of improvised acoustic-guitar interplay. I realize a lot of guitarists can run up and down blues scales all day, but Rose and Smith play together in ecstatic bursts that technical ability alone can't produce—Rose happily bashing out the chords, Smith's guitar lines sprawling on with a surprising mix of grit and finesse. You can stream some of Al's songs here, but you won't get the full effect unless you see him live sometime. I don't think there's anyone who writes songs quite like him, or anyone who could pull off his hybrid of sturdy country/folk and shamelessly weird lyrics.

Hoekstra played a solo set and read a short story from his new book, Bothering The Coffee Drinkers. The songs I've heard from his recent Six Songs EP show his catchy acoustic-pop side (I especially recommend "The Bottomless Pit"), and during the show he focused on quieter folk numbers. For the most part it was as if he was singing to himself, displaying a confidence and restraint that seems ever more rare in today's singers. Anyone who's talked to me about music knows how picky I am about this. If the melody and lyrics are good, a singer can get his point across without whining and moaning, and that's what Hoekstra does. Instead of clubbing an audience over the head with emotion, he draws 'em in with witty narratives and imagery. I'm not at the top of my describing game today. Just give both of these guys a listen. Pleasures await those who do.

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