Annette Brown, Lifetime The story of June Carter Cash comes to life in the…
- Posted on Sep 28th 2009 10:00AM by Kenneth Partridge
"It's because of medical marijuana that I wrote this next song," a jovial Cervenka said of 'I Can't Escape Without You,' a tune that, while not on the new record, is very much in keeping with the disc's stark, honky-tonk feel. "Well, it's because of medical marijuana that I write all my songs," she added, scrunching her face into a mischievous smile.
Resilience may well have been the theme of the evening, as Cervenka's performance was part of a BBQ and rock show commemorating the 15th anniversary of Bloodshot Records, a Chicago indie label that, despite industry woes, continues to release albums by artists with unique perspectives on American roots music.
While Cervenka didn't play any X tunes, many of her new songs harked back to the country and rockabilly-tinged punk classics she and that group recorded throughout the late '70s and early '80s. On 'Walk Me Home Across the Night,' Cervenka strummed a brisk boogie rhythm, proving herself more than adequate on the acoustic guitar, an instrument she's not known for playing. Given the character of her new material --unplugged, off-kilter country -- she might have easily reprised the dissonant banshee howls of her youth and tried for a sort of wily backwoods-Appalachian sound.
Instead, Cervenka offered up some of the prettiest, most precise singing of her career, bringing real poignancy to 'Sound of Coming Down' and 'Why Is It So?' For much of the show, backup singer Cindy Wasserman's microphone was too low to hear, leaving Cervenka to carry the tunes on her own.
Saturday's Bloodshot bash also included fine performances by several of the label's other female-fronted acts, among them Rosie Flores and the Riveters, who opened the festivities with a set of spitfire country and rockabilly, and Cordero, a Brooklyn quartet whose lead singer, Ani Cordero, is as cool and mysterious as the band's Spanish-flavored roots-punk jams.
Another female musician, drummer Sara Romweber, powered the day's most raucous set, backing her brother Dex -- a singer and guitarist formerly of the Flat Duo Jets -- on a collection of throaty doo-wop ballads and searing punkabilly instrumentals. But it was Cervenka's set, not to mention her presence, that was the highlight of the show.