Monsters of Folk

While their ogre-ish inclinations remain private, the "folk" bit of this trio's collective heading is what's stretched a little nightmarishly. There's certainly a folk element in the work of all three, but it's not the first thing you'd mention. Dave Alvin tapped a large swath of Americana as a songwriter for the Blasters, which favored muscular blitzes of rockabilly, electrified blues, and cowpunk. He likes to crank that electric guitar, too. Alvin's a superb writer and interpreter of wide-ranging material, which he proved yet again on his last album, West of West, covering the songs of California songwriters. Tim O'Brien comes from country and bluegrass. His high tenor and mandolin were at the heart of newgrass stalwarts Hot Rize and their alter ego, Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers. On his own, O'Brien has roamed from Celtic to Western swing and the junction of country and folk. Chris Smither's original songs are derived from blues and folk traditions, but his snazzy fingerpicking guitar work owes a sizable debt to blues legends like Lightnin' Hopkins and Mississippi John Hurt. An intimate solo performance by Smither, showing off a fine array of his philosophical, often dryly witty songs, was recently released on the DVD One More Night.
Sun., Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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