A tattooed man playing a washboard and yelling with glee leaps off the stage into a hoedown of dancers. The joyous press of musicians onstage play at a breakneck pace, with a melange of instruments: autoharp, upright bass made out of an old washtub, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, harmonica. This is the aggressive bluegrass of Old Man Markley.
Originals fit nicely with covers such as Flatt & Scruggs's "Rollin' in My Sweet Baby's Arms" and Cake's "Stick Shifts and Safety Belts," all played in an articulate, fun style.
The Pine Box Boys opened the evening with rootsy songs of murder and politics. With erratic hard-rock rhythms and bloodied-tongue-in-cheek lyrics, it's as if Primus and Johnny Cash decided to write together. It's an enjoyable combination.
With little of the hillbilly rhythm in him, singer-songwriter Pete Bernhard was the odd man out, playing the middle set. Bernhard is the frontman for the Devil Makes Three, an emergent band whose traditional sounds would've been right at home at this show. But the catchy, finger-picked bluesy folk-rock melodies and clever lyrics of Bernhard's new solo release, Straight Line, made for a thoughtful mid-show cleansing of the sonic palate that left the audience ready for more.
- Concert: Old Man Markley, Pete Bernhard, the Pine Box Boys
- Show date: February 16
- Venue: Casbah
- Seats: general