This weekend's best live bets: Avett Brothers, Thurston Moore, Chuck Prophet and more
CHUCK PROPHET @ THE WALNUT ROOM
Every aspiring guitarist who taped a copy of Big Star's Radio City went on to start his own band. That's conventional wisdom. But what about the misfits who scrounged a burn of Alex Chilton's Like Flies on Sherbert or treasured a bootleg LP of his late-'70s Elektra demos? On Soap and Water, former Green on Red guitarist Chuck Prophet answers that question. It's a catchy, accurate recasting of Chilton's terrified insouciance and sickening pop modulations, and if it occasionally descends into pastiche, it scrubs behind Chilton's ears with a loving touch. Prophet might not sing as snidely as the Memphian did on such numbers as Sherbert's "Hey! Little Child" (referenced here on "Heart Beat"), but he adds complaisant female vocals to an ingenious series of mocking guitar moves.
SAWMILL JOE @ HI-DIVE
You couldn't make up Joe Cheves unless you thought you were being clever and writing some film in collaboration with the Coen brothers about a folksinger from the first half of the twentieth century. Cheves, who fronts Sawmill Joe (due at the hi-dive on Saturday, June 30), looks like he stepped out of another era and sounds like it, too. Instead of merely singing about working hard in soul-crushing conditions, Cheves actually knows what it's like. Far from a quaint affectation, this guy's husky voice was earned.
WHITEY MORGAN & THE 78S @ LITTLE BEAR
If Waylon Jennings didn't exist, then Whitey Morgan wouldn't either. The same could be said for Johnny Paycheck and Johnny Cash, not to mention Buicks, twin fiddles and class struggle. The mold should have been broken with the passing of honky-tonk's golden age, but, somehow, against all the corn pone that still fuels much of the revivalist scene, Morgan is absolutely in that mold. With a rich baritone that stands up to Dale Watson and a hard-as-forged-steel band that stands up to pure shuffles and trucker stomps, Morgan is a heavyweight, hard-country hitter.
Check out our newly revamped concert calendar for a complete listing of all of tonight's shows. Page down for rundown of tomorrow night's best bets.