Brokeback, 75 Dollar Bill, Health & Beauty Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Fri., Nov. 20, 9:30 p.m. 2015

New York drummer Rick Brown has long applied punk’s DIY ethic to unexpected settings, producing an irresistibly ragged sense of propulsion during his time with terrific, often overlooked bands—Curlew, Information, V-Effect, Les Batteries, Fish & Roses, Run On. It’s not like his timekeeping is mediocre, either—instead he creates rough edges and off-kilter grooves that consistently make his bands better. In 75 Dollar Bill, his duo with guitarist Che Chen, he’s ditched the drum kit in favor of an old wooden box he found—it’s a kind of homemade cajon that he beats with his hands, mallets, and a kick-drum pedal. Brown also makes great use of a pair of maracas, rattling them and bashing a cracked crash cymbal with them as he plays changing yet elemental rhythms that flow with the grace and violence of a river. Though he did spend time in Mauritania studying with Jheich Ould Chighaly, Chen has developed a kind of intuitive approach to Saharan guitar, playing a conventional electric guitar and another with frets adapted to play quartertones. The style he creates in doing so is all his own: fierce art-punk meets dirty blues meets African trance. Together the pair create a low-budget instrumental-music hoedown of unalloyed beauty and power, as heard on this year’s album Wooden Bag (Other Music) as well as a handful of great self-released tapes—they actually busked in their early days and have retained that portability and in-the-red fury. This is their Chicago debut.

Peter Margasak

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