From their origins at Tipitina's through their removal to Colorado, eventual breakup, and reunion, the subdudes have remained a fundamentally New Orleans band, perhaps quirky even by those standards (chiefly for eschewing a full drum kit), but certainly with Fess and Fats coursing through the music's swampy veins. The last couple of 'dudes albums have vividly celebrated and lamented (in the context of Katrina) that heritage, but their new Flower Petals (429) is both a major departure thematically and a return to the band's mostly acoustic roots. Petals is a truly rare breed these days: a genuine concept album, complete with a narrative that links otherwise freestanding songs into a tale of murder, greed, revenge, scapegoats, and redemption. It's really an old-fashioned morality play set in the Old West. Louisiana elements still permeate the subdudes' distinctive sound without expressly dominating. But the guitars are mostly acoustic, joining dulcimer and mandolin; John Magnie primarily sticks to accordion, while Steve Amedee gets maximum bang out of minimalist percussion. Center stage is the group's gloriously rich three- and four-part harmonies, which draw from gospel, blues, soul, and folk and ultimately resonate along with Petals' suitably subdued power.
Wed., Dec. 9, 7 & 9:30 p.m., 2009