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The Devil with You!

Chicago’s Devil in a Woodpile play virtually constantly; their new record embodies this nicely.


At Devil in a Woodpile’s weekly Tuesday Hideout gig, atmosphere and situation dominate. Rick Cookin’ Sherry yelps in Appalachian, strums at the washboard, and wheezes through harmonica and clarinet, Tom V. Ray whacks the upright bass, Joel Paterson blinds the watchful on the frets adding occasional background vocals and kazoo while others occasionally sit in with the odd tuba. Whether a juke joint of the old South, or hoedown in an old mountain town, guests feel truly welcomed to a stirringly unusual yet timelessly relaxing and unimposing show.


Let’s reconcile this music with the present. Look at that CD player. You know, the one that usually houses either an old favorite or some novelty you’ve been suckered into buying. Toss aside that ELO or Libertines disc in favor of Devil’s brand new In Your Lonesome Town. Now shut those jaded rock fan eyes and let the imagination run loose.


Sherry’s harmonica chug-a-lugs Sonny Terry’s raucous “A Long Way from Home” into your jaundiced grey matter. Whack! It collides with Charley Patton’s eminently singable “Shake it and Break It.” You phase in and out. Pure showcase for Paterson’s folk blues guitar, “Beer Ticket Rag” evokes the earthy feeling and mossy freshness the title implies and his trades with Sherry’s washboard affirm. Clarinet and tuba wind throughout the dreamy “Louisiana Fairytale.” The whole affair ends with Big Bill Broonzy’s strutting yet unperturbed, “When I’m Drinkin’.”


Therein lies In Your Lonesome Town’s trouble and merit. The LP really does make soothing background music. As a collection of sharply-chosen blues covers performed with acoustic zeal, Devil in a Woodpile’s new record makes for a truly admirable accomplishment. It also invariably fades slowly backward, which is just the thing for any conversation among fans of roots music and the open-minded alike.


Devil in a Woodpile In Your Lonesome Town, 7.1/10, released 3/8/05. Devil in a Woodpile appear every Tuesday at The Hideout; CD Release Show, Hideout, Friday March 11; Instore at The Record Emporium 3346 N Paulina (at Roscoe & Lincoln)Saturday March 26, 5:00pm, free; also, Wednesday March 30, 2005 with the Asylum St. Spankers at Martyr’s.


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