Nashville’s Lost Dog Street Band makes ragged-but-right folk music | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Nashville’s Lost Dog Street Band makes ragged-but-right folk music


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Nashville's Lost Dog Street Band mixes old-timey music with touches of contemporary Americana, but what most distinguishes the group is the voice of front man Benjamin Tod Flippo. He's not a powerhouse singer—his delivery wavers somewhere between high-lonesome bluegrass and Bob Dylan-style talk-singing. As he flirts with the wrong key, or scrambles to keep up with the rollicking pace of songs such as "Hard Road Again," his ragged-but-right approach adds a pleasingly uncertain punk edge to the band's sound. When Flippo wails "Circumstances shot us down like September doves" on the first track of the group’s self-released 2016 album, Rage and Tragedy, he gives the impression that he's in danger of falling, while his wife and bandmate, fiddle player Ashley Mae, joins in with a harmony that just about keeps him afloat. On "I Remember You Well"—a tribute to Nicholas Ridout, his former bandmate in folk four-piece Spit Shine, who died in 2013—he makes even better use of his characteristic vocals. "And now you’re gone / Long time gone / But we’re still here / And life goes on," he draws out in a painful yodel. The song doesn’t resolve with ease; the notes come out broken, as if grief's gotten into the song and pushed it out of true. When it comes to folk music’s long tradition of perfect imperfection, the Lost Dog Street Band is a worthy heir.   v

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