When Robert Crumb's "Keep on Truckin'" dude takes his goofy leaning steps down the avenue, the beat in his head, one suspects, is Levon Helm's (pictured). One of the (10, let's say) finest and funkiest drummers in rock history, the ex-Band member plays looser than the elastic on pair of 20-year-old sweatpants yet makes every kick, smack, and splash seem inevitable. Plus his singing could draw tears from a statue of Marcus Aurelius. His latest album, last year's Electric Dirt, is a keenly played and selected bunch of rock, blues, gospel, and country songs, including those by the Grateful Dead, the Stanley Brothers, Randy Newman, and two from Muddy Waters (he of the album Electric Mud). John Hiatt has more great songs—here mean, there sentimental, frequently wise and funny—than one night will accommodate; I always leave his shows wishing he'd heeded my silent requests for x, y, or z. His new album, The Open Road, isn't one of his strongest, but the title track and a few others enrich his catalog of loser/dreamer anthems, and his latest band, like all his bands, is lean and chopsy.
Tue., July 6, 7:30 p.m., 2010