Songwriter Vic Chestnutt's online bio reads like a cross between free-verse poetry and a grocery list. Its simplicity makes its poignant moments more striking: "adopted," "age 17 meets Johnny Cash," "hands and legs go numb," "meets Joni Mitchell." So it is with Chestnutt's lyrics, propelled and nourished by Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. The songwriter distills the observations of a man paralyzed at age 18 into deceivingly simple sentiments such as, "My blue ribbon gumption is gone/All my gravy must have soaked into something." Though Michael Stipe discovered Chestnutt in Athens in the late '80s, the mainstream caught wind of him with 1996's Sweet Relief II: The Gravity of the Situation, a haunting all-star covers album of his songs. Chestnutt's repertoire is deep, wide, and perfect for exploration in an intimate setting. With Elf Power and Yer Cronies. 18+.
Sat., Jan. 31, 8 p.m., 2009