Schramms | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Chances are you've heard Dave Schramm before. An original member of Yo La Tengo, he played on their debut, Ride the Tiger, and rejoined them to play the gorgeous electric guitar and pedal-steel leads on the remarkable Fakebook. He's also recorded and performed with artists like Freedy Johnston (for whom he's opening here), Peter Blegvad, Kate Jacobs, and Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey. But while Schramm's session work bears testimony to his prodigious guitar skills, the three albums his own band has put out, including the superb new offering Little Apocalypse (ESD), provide loads of evidence of his songwriting ability. Nominally a pop band, the Schramms incorporate flourishes of country and folk (the new record sports a terrific cover of Lucinda Williams's "Side of the Road") and occasionally venture into quirky instrumental terrain (as on "Duck Hunting in Hell," a redoubtable blend of Morricone-like sound-track ambience and kitschy country twang), but their leader's carefully constructed melodies steer clear of genre limitations. He stretches his plain, reedy voice, inhabiting his words with relish and flecking his warm delivery with bits of raw nerve. And his guitar playing soars: complex, often knotty excursions that maintain a balance between the songs' exquisite tunefulness and their tender emotional outlay. This is the band's Chicago debut. Tuesday, 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 929-5959 or 559-1212.

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