Peter Case, who headlines this particularly strong singer-songwriter bill, has been banging out rock 'n' roll since Gerald Ford was president. Chuck Prophet, who's warming up for Case, has released eleven albums, including five with Green on Red in the 80s. But don't be surprised if the first act, 24-year-old Paddy Casey, gives them both a run for their money. The diminutive Dublin guitarist was performing as a street musician at age 12 and has since worked his way up to gigs opening for the Pretenders, Ani DiFranco, and R.E.M. His debut disc for Columbia, Amen (So Be It), is a fine collection of folk-pop musings delivered in a sandpaper voice that reminds me of very early Bob Dylan. Like English folkie Beth Orton, Casey has no qualms about mixing traditional sounds with electronics (one of his early heroes was Prince): his simple songs are modestly framed with drum loops, scratching, keyboards, and synthesizers, and the Celtic-sounding melody that closes out the opening track is played not on pipes but on fuzzed-out keyboard. Casey always reaches for the hook, a lesson he learned less in pursuit of a major-label advance than in busking for loose change. Playing on the street "makes you realize what a good song is," he said in a recent interview. "The songs you busk have to grab people right away." Like most up-and-coming openers, he'll probably play to nobody tonight--but I bet he won't be doing so for long. Friday, 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508. Casey has also been added to the bill headlined by Silkworm (see Spot Check), Saturday at 10 PM at Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Katrina Jebb.