March 14, 2006

A b-b-b-bad weekend

Charting the stock of rock ’n’ roll singers whose voices are made for each other is a commission that will surely, if ever done, go unrewarded. There’s really no way to do it objectively, and that will trouble enough people to kill it in its infancy. However, there are universals: John and Paul, Bob and Emmylou, Johnny and June, Mick Jagger and the women who sang on “Gimme Shelter.” We actually have a pair here: the singers of a band that, for depressingly pragmatic reasons, may never attain such status as their luminary vocal counterparts: Mick Sullivan and Tory Fisher of Fire the Saddle. Over their first 24 songs — two fine albums from 2003 and 2004 — their voices danced and dallied with each other on songs coy and heartbreaking in the same breath, twisting weird melodies over whiskey-country tunes and bluegrass riffs that could build a fire. For the most part, however, the pair laid off each other’s songs. Here and there a harmony would fly in, only to disappear with comparable deftness. Brand-new Roll Back the Rug is easily the most mature — musically and lyrically — of the band’s recorded history. There is the typical heartbreak, yearning and sadness that accompanies quality non-commercial country music. There is the sawing that whittles like good bluegrass does. Perhaps most importantly, though, there is the continuity that comes when a band with multiple songwriting personalities finally finds its groove. “Unlike the last record, it’s a lot more fluid,” Sullivan said. “It’s just more congruent.”I asked them about the way their voices meld on record.“We’ve become a lot more reliant on each other, and comfortable with each other,” Fisher said. “We can really just belt it out.”Fisher is consistently there to add the harmony you’d never think of to Sullivan’s rich and robust baritone, and vice versa. Bassist Rob Collier contributes equal weight to the songwriting, though he doesn’t sing. Mandolin player and fiddler Joe Burchett also pens a few here and there. The all-in approach — former drummer Jason Lawrence added percussive elements to his particularly musical drumming on the record — has come to define Fire the Saddle’s sound. “I think any of us, if you asked us, would agree how lucky we are to be in this situation,” said Sullivan. “We’re better musicians than we were on the last record.” •When DJ Scott Mullins left Louisville for the Great White North a couple months ago, he left behind a legacy in the Dirty Soul Party, the weekly Red Lounge dig he and longtime associate Kim Sorise grew and fed into the unequivocally original beast it became. Mullins’ absence left a void — Ray Davies’ solo work, while similar to the Kinks, never touched what he did with brother Dave, right? — so Sorise is doing something new. Along with Parlour leader Tim Furnish, himself a well-rounded student of electronic music, Sorise has concocted “Concréte,” a four-hour soirée of experimental electronic jams and video, some of which are created on the spot. The idea is based upon the French “Musique Concréte,” a basic form of electronic music featuring natural and less natural sounds strung together as a fluid piece. “I wanted (Furnish’s) expertise with electronically-produced music, and also Tim’s eye for film,” Sorise said. The show runs the first and third Thursday of every month. •Laying claim to Irish heritage during this time of year will make a joke of you if you’re not actually Irish. The folks down in Portland have no such worry. Nelligan Hall — a Portland Avenue fixture being revitalized to hold shows and such — is home to a two-day celebration of all things Irish and, well, metal. First, the Irish: things start at 3 p.m. Friday with some genuine green tunes from My Darling Asleep. The Holy Name Concert Society Band also plays, and a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner will be served. Later in the evening, J.K. McKnight will play a set, as will the bands Scout, Amherst, A Better Yesterday and Antikythera. Saturday gets rollin’ around 4 p.m. with 11 bands, most of them metal. Some highlights: Wake the Day, Autumn Scream, Unit Like Stereo and Mass Murderers and Misconceptions. Likewise, officials say Nelligan Hall will be the place to find the cheapest Guinness in town.•Finally, props to Coyote’s: The club was nominated for the “Nightclub of the Year” award by the Academy of Country Music, which will be presented May 23. You can see why it’s so b-b-b-bad tonight, when George Thorogood takes the stage. Drop by and have a bourbon, a scotch and a beer for us.