Music » Critics' Picks

Kevin Gordon

Thursday, Nov. 1; Off Broadway


Opening with a soul-deep condemnation of rock & roll, Kevin Gordon's Down to the Well somehow saves it, if only where it counts -- in his wide-open heart. The weary rocker who "threw that black Telecaster through a plate-glass door" may never want to go back to the buckets of blood and beer, but he'll be there, if only to see what truths are left to find. Though he looks like a perpetual 25-year-old, Gordon has paid his dues. In the '80s, he cut his teeth in the honky-tonks of his native Louisiana and honed his blues chops with Iowa legend Bo Ramsey, but he gave up rock & roll to pursue creative writing in the notorious Iowa workshops. That was before a gut check sent him back to the well of Stonesy, blues-based rock, tapping into the working-class rhythms and images of Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, as well as the country springs of Hank and Lucinda Williams (who pours it all out on "Down to the Well"). Now based in Nashville, Gordon is, along with Steve Earle and maybe even Bob Dylan, the best roots-conscious rocker working the circuit today.With relentless pacing and prowling charisma, Gordon turns a live show into a rare declaration of just how much rock & roll still means -- and just how deep and far it can take you. His 45-minute set at last year's Twangfest not only tore the Duck Room down, it set him apart from the scores of other Tele-wielding singer/songwriters waiting in the wings. Gordon's deal is real, and you don't want to miss him.

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