The final post from a trio of musicians seen this week at Club Passim regards Keith McCurdy. McCurdy plays in a handful of Rhode Island bands, the iteration we happened to see in Cambridge is called Vudu Sister.
It’s just him: a guy with medium length wavy-blonde hair brushed back behind his ears, he’s wearing shorts and dirty red Doc Martin boots, his wrinkled German issued military button up is partially covering a black Soundgarden tee. He sits alone with his guitar on stage staring into the lights and waiting for the sound engineer to cut the theater’s pre-show music.
Stabarific and I bumped into Keith & his assistant at the Starbucks across Church street before the show began (the hippie vegetarian cafe in the venue was closed due to a kitchen fire last week). The two were affable, chatting with the baristas and charming them into buying CDs. I’m not sure if Keith consumed any coffee, he may have just been taking a walk to steady the nerves, and he seemed genuinely concerned when I facetiously accused him of trying to skip out on the show.
Sitting and watching McCurdy wait on stage I can truly say that I had absolutely no idea what to expect. We had come to see Dan Blakeslee, a tallented fellow we observed on the street 24 hours earlier, and the inclusion of Vudu Sister and Denver Boot on the marquee was a gift to us.
Suddenly the music stops, it’s Vudu Sister time.
McCurdy is not your average folk singer/bluegrass front man, he’s the reincarnation of Kurt Cobain turned fescue. He is not short on conviction and his music is dark, mesmerizing and intense. An evolved mix of Cobain, Jack White, & the Two Gallants.
He seethes on Dead Man’s Pockets, The Quiet Man, and Underground. He channels “One-Finger” Ellis, an incarcerated Kansas City hobo who penned Hallelujah, I’m a Bum on a cell wall in 1897. McCurdy contains raw blasts of power that belie the fact that he’s alone behind the microphone.
For a few songs he invites Denver Bootist Amato Zinno on stage to play upright bass. There is an uncanny amount of overlap between Vudu Sister and Denver Boot. On his album, McCurdy plays with Michael Samos & Diane O’Connor, both of who are featured with the Boot; both band’s albums are produced by Greg Holmes at Treading Thomas Records, a garage-style recording studio in Providence. So, Amato standing in for half the set makes perfect sense, the RI music scene isn’t large enough to outfit the number of bands it produces.
Vudu Sister has artfully bridged the chasm between grudge and folk that upon closer inspection isn’t as far apart as I assumed it should be. His debut album, Bastard Children, is, like Vudu in concert, deserving of attention.
The album is for sale directly through Keith and you can lavish praise upon him via his Facebook page.