Carrie Rodriguez (pictured), a fiddle ace, singer, and songsmith from Austin, Texas, hosts this third annual road version of the radio songwriters' showcase. A classically trained instrumentalist, Rodriguez originally developed her sly and sultry singing voice playing with Chip Taylor, and later established herself as a first-rate songwriter. Last fall's We Still Love Our Country is a collaboration with Ben Kyle of the Twin Cities band Romantica, staking a convincing claim on the male-female country duo tradition (think Loretta and George) with memorable covers of Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, and Boudleaux Bryant. The Pacific Northwest's Kelly Joe Phelps is a phenomenal guitarist who crosses country blues, folk weathered on the Western frontier, jazz improv, and a touch of avant-garde. His sound ranges from dusty, exquisitely etched solo acoustic guitar pieces that tap the likes of John Fahey and Skip James, to original songs with striking imagery and insight eloquently scratching at the human condition. Pieta Brown matches poetic lyrics with a sinewy, rootsy blend of country, folk, blues, and gospel, often with a haunting, mercurial spirit. Her latest album on St. Paul's Red House Records is appropriately titled Mercury, recorded with members of Mark Knopfler's road band and evocative Iowa guitarist (and producer) Bo Ramsey. As a vocalist Pieta shows off familial ties to dad Greg in her phrasing, which also suggests Bob Dylan, and stepmother Iris Dement in timbre—amid a touch of Lucinda Williams. This is a rare assembly of three of the most singular artists in the singer-songwriter game.
Sat., Feb. 4, 7 p.m., 2012