Bill Morrissey | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Bill Morrissey

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Bill Morrissey doesn't play Old Folk, but he doesn't play anything like New Folk either; he's just a youthful modern troubador who goes from town to town telling his tales, dependent on the kindness of strangers to keep doing what he does. None of this is anything noble, and if you don't listen closely he sounds just like any of the thousands of other performers who take more from the audience than they give out. But take the time to let his gravelly New England rasp sink in, and you start to notice the true grit, like the loser "coughing up blood in a Motel 6." Losers and loners are his medium, but he's a devout deromanticist: his heroes are unattractive and unfaithful, choking on dust and self-hate. The new record, Inside, has the usual cameos (Suzanne Vega, Greg Brown) and the usual moments of offhand catharsis--pulled off both easily (as on "Man From Out of Town") and much more chancily ("Robert Johnson.") In person Morrissey is self-deprecating and intermittently amusing, perhaps a bit too practiced in his patter, but often compelling and eerily memorable. The show Tuesday is his first with a full band. Peter Keane opens. Tuesday, Schuba's, 3159 N. Southport; 525-2508.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Susan Wilson.

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