A sanctified organ whirring, a guitar strummed as if by a dying man's hand, a voice eroded past self-recognition and words so well chosen they couldn't possibly ring true: "Driving by the big estates out on the boulevard/In a blown-out ride rattlin' between the perfect yards/My wife's in a trance starin' at all that romance/Big money can provide/She don't say a word, I know she's dissatisfied." Kevin Gordon's "Dissatisfied," from last year's Cadillac Jack's #1 Son (Shanachie), has the feel of a classic, the desperately-real-to-life depth you keep wishing you'd find on the latest John Hiatt or Graham Parker record. Kevin Gordon's music has that visceral soulfulness. He learned his craft both in Louisiana juke dives and beside blues noir-ist Bo Ramsey. He backs his steely, working-class vignettes with the grittiest sources: chicken-shack boogies, nasty Stax soul, even nastier Sun piano meltdowns and more contemporary, cut-it-all-loose guitar rock.
Gordon is readying to record again and considering Nashville's Woodland studios (where Slim Harpo once recorded) as the right place for songs that have turned introspective and elusive. "One song has the working title of "Jimmy Reed Is the King of Rock & Roll,'" he says. "It came out of a very late night when I was playing with Bo Ramsey, 10 years ago. We were driving home when the sun was coming up, both still out of our minds, listening to Jimmy Reed. (The title) makes perfect sense and no sense at all. And it's a country song, which is even weirder." Weirder still is Gordon's relative obscurity, at least in St. Louis, something only an experience of his sweaty, driven, surrendered-to-the-scorching-groove performances is likely to change. This week's your chance. Don't miss him.