Dimestore Troubadours

The Circle Bar

February 12, 2005

The Dimestore Troubadours played low-down, junkyard Rock at The Circle Bar Sunday night. They took from Ragtime, Gypsy Jazz, and Folk music. Especially the hard-hitting, bone-stripped darkness in the songs of Tom Waits. Think of a girl's neck swinging from a tree outside a church illuminated by lightning. That image best sums up DT's music.

Vocalist/guitarist/accordionist Joseph Kees sang scary lullabies with a sandpaper voice that was even reminiscent of Waits. The voice was a little forced, and since Kees was reading from sheet lyrics, he wasn't on top of the music's flow. The music as a whole was forced, too. It was too hip to be true.

Maybe because the three-piece suited hipness they were reaching for outshone the songs. The music was well-written, and I enjoyed Kees' crazed yelps, but the band could have been tighter. Kees was joined by banjo player Brian Kees, upright bassist Beau Bogart, alto saxophonist Chris Gautreaux, and drummer Creighton.

Kees sang about blood, ex-wives, and knives. Also, "Everybody blamed the preacher/He did it all/He slit her throat/In the bathroom stall."

The slower, sparse songs swung with a marching beat or more apprehensive brush slides on the snare. The bass and drums were locked on a walk, while the banjo strummed feverishly, and the bass was bowed for great background creepiness.

One song had a more upbeat doom-tat doom-tat doom-tat party bounce to it. The banjo delivered fast solos in between verses.

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