The large number of bands joining rock 'n' roll to country and western belies the difficulty of doing it. Some bands (such as Son Volt) lapse into stuffy, joyless reverence, while others (such as the now-defunct Texas Rubies) wallow in campy caricature. Moonshine Willy avoids these pitfalls. The Chicago-based quintet's arrangements combine bluegrass velocity with rock impact; Rachael Ferro's sprightly fiddling and Nancy Rideout's economical guitar, mandolin, and banjo never trip over one another as they race toward each tune's end. Kim Docter's songwriting echos classic country themes of strained domesticity, loss, sin, and redemption, but she updates them with modern urban details. But even when her lyrics are dark her performances are not. Docter's earthy singing is never overdone or mannered; her punctuating whoops and yodels give voice to the unabashed enthusiasm and joy that infuse the band's playing. Both shows celebrate the release of the band's splendid sophomore album Bold Displays of Imperfection. Holler and Caution Horse open. Friday, 6 PM, Reckless Records, 3157 N. Broadway, 773-404-5080; 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln, 773-525-6620.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/ D. Spinelli.