Monday, April 9, Barrymore Theater, 7:30 pm
Go-to string guy Jon Rauhouse gets plenty of quality help on his latest solo flight, Steel Guitar Heart Attack. After adding both atmosphere and sass to the work of Neko Case, Kelly Hogan, Calexico and Sally Timms, the veteran pedal steel, guitar and banjo player gets a lot love from all of 'em on this sly, swinging, wonderfully eclectic new solo CD. With help from guitar picking buddy Tommy Connell and a large cast of other canny instrumentalists, Rauhouse essays everything from the theme from the old gumshoe TV series 'Mannix' to Marty Robbins' loping gunfighter ballad 'Big Iron' (replete with an appropriately portentous vocal by Hogan) to the breezy exotica of David Rose's 'Holiday for Strings.' And there really isn't a duff track on the disc. Since he's warming up for Case at the Barrymore (and also backing her), presumably she'll step up to caress 'East of the Sun (and West of Moon)' just as she does on the album. But the real thrill here will be getting a chance to hear Rauhouse and his own band trip and gambol through retro, at times wacky instrumentals that simply make a body feel good.
As for that heart attack reference in the album's title, Rauhouse did have heart trouble not so long ago. But he's dealt with it, and both his fingers and his sense of humor remain frisky as ever.
Thursday, April 12, CafÃ Montmartre, 8:30 pm
Singer/fiddler Carrie Rodriguez spent five years playing sophisticated country folk with songwriter Chip Taylor ('Wild Thing,' 'Angel of the Morning') before releasing last year's Seven Angels on a Bicycle, an alternately meditative and smoldering Americana collection.
The album garnered strong reviews, and Rodriguez won praise for her often languorous vocals and the country-tinged tone poems she'd worked up in the studio with help from Taylor, guitar heavyweight Bill Frisell and other top-notch players. As it turns out, one of Rodriguez's biggest new admirers was Lucinda Williams, a keen judge of bred-in-the-bone musical talent if there ever was one. Williams singled out Seven Angels in a New York Times column about her current favorite recordings, noting that Rodriguez has 'something unique in her voice that's very subtle and a little smoky and sweet.'
And Williams' support didn't end with the kind words. This month she has Rodriguez opening a string of her theater dates. That exposure pretty much guarantees that Rodriguez won't be playing intimate rooms like CafÃ Montmartre too much longer.