Tuck & Patti
In her singing Patti Cathcart plays so many cards--folk and gospel, rock, jazz, and blues, and more recently hip-hop and the oral-percussion techniques of African music--that you might expect her voice to get lost in the shuffle. But Cathcart has such a strong vision, and such a remarkable and versatile instrument, that as fully as she realizes any of these styles they never eclipse her own personality. Her repertoire contains terrific and surprising versions of classic rock--the 1995 album Learning How to Fly includes a charging "Woodstock" and a whimsical "Up From the Skies"--if a few too many "uplifting" songs for my curmudgeonly taste. But that doesn't qualify my admiration of her all-American virtuosity. She works with only a guitarist for accompaniment, and if it were almost any other guitarist, you'd surmise that Cathcart's dynamism simply carried them both. But Tuck Andress is a dervish in waiting--he'll spend much of the set quietly strumming deceptively complex chords and implied polyrhythms, then pin your ears back when the music calls for a blast of pure melody. Together, this husband and wife present some of the most energetically focused music on the pop horizon. And on ballads--on which larger bands often strip down to the rarefied setup that constitutes Tuck & Patti's entire mise-en-scene--the couple grabs a little slice of heaven. Thursday, July 24, 7:30 PM, Skyline Stage, Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand; 312-595-7437 or 312-559-1212. NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Michelle Clement.