At first glance, the Howlin' Brothers — who do actually howl sometimes mid-song — seems like a family band who grew up pickin' the local musical vernacular deep in the southern Appalachians. They are, in fact, a string band adept at pickin' all the traditional stuff, but Ian Craft, Jared Green, and Ben Plasse hail from New York, Wisconsin, and Nova Scotia, respectively, aren't related, and played in Ithaca College studios instead of the holler. And they like to mess with tradition, venturing from bluegrass all over the Americana map to rock 'n' roll, making it all work with playful, gritty spirit. The trio hooked up with Brendan Benson of the Raconteurs fame to produce their first national release, this spring's Howl, a rousing romp of originals and scattered covers by the likes of John Hartford. "The Tennessee Blues" is a bluesy shuffle. "Tell Me That You Love Me" lays wailing fiddles over blues-rock. "Just Like You" is country blues. "Take This Hammer" is an Earl Scruggs-like breakdown. "Mama Don't You Tell Me" is laced with gospel. And "Delta Queen" incorporates New Orleans traditional jazz and is driven by a funky NOLA second line beat. Opening will be the Boys 'n the Barrels, a local outfit with an expansive definition of bluegrass.
Wed., May 29, 7 p.m., 2013