To criticize the progressive whitening of the blues, a trend that may have gotten jump-started during the electrified 1970s, would be pointless. African-American origins notwithstanding, blues audiences have shifted away from those roots, as have a good number of the practitioners of the art. But every now and then something comes along that sounds down home. In this case, it’s Hopeless Jack & the Handsome Devil, a guitar-and-drums duo from the Pacific Northwest. There’s a country aspect to this band’s farm-bred folk music as well. But when they get deep into their own blues mix, the sound comes straight out of an era neither musician could have experienced firsthand — namely, the early days of John Lee Hooker.
No, not the boogie-rock that was made prominent by classic-rock titans like Canned Heat, but Hooker’s own swamp delirium, a simple bag of riffs that sound as if culled from malaria dreams, or a weeklong bender, or both. Now, imagine Iggy Pop doing this music and you have an idea of what Hopeless Jack is all about. Garage blues, with tattoos and earrings.
- Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 8 p.m.
Brick by Brick,
1130 Buenos Avenue,
Slide guitarist/singer Jack Beisel and drummer Peter Thomas met up about five years ago when they were both pulling shifts in a Portland bar; prior, Beisel had been a solo act. Jam sessions convinced the two to make a band. They perfected the sound in area clubs like Dante’s and Tiger Bar, then hit the road in a hard way. A head-on collision (the only casualty was their tour van) stalled progress for a while, but now Hopeless Jack & the Handsome Devil are back on the road with at least five different tours planned throughout the U.S. for 2015. Punk blues? Not really. It’s about the ethos of musicians who came of age during the post-punk era. And there’s no taking the Caucasian out of this act, but still...