Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Vulgar Boatmen

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Never really part of any trend, this Florida-via-Indiana band, sister band to the Silos, exists in a kind of limbo. For over 20 years they've plotted their own career, complete with hard-to-find releases and a cult following. And they haven't changed their sound either: graceful, folk-based indie rock that's both familiar and unusual, like Wilco stripped bare. I defy anyone to hear the melody of "Drive Somewhere" (which was a bit of a local hit long ago) or the viola line that snakes through "There's a Family" (which reminds me a little of John Cale on Nick Drake's "Fly") and not be moved. The recent Wide Awake (No Nostalgia) collects tracks from the Boatmen's previous three albums--a boon for fans who have enjoyed the band's frequent trips to Chicago but haven't been able to find their out-of-print records. This weekend's show is something of a special occasion, in a bittersweet way: guitarist Matt Speake plans to leave the band at the end of the winter to spend more time with his family, making this his last Chicago gig. With Catfish Haven (see Spot Check) and Ol' Yeller. Saturday, January 3, 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.

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