For years now, T.T. the Bear's Place has boldly addressed the problem of what to do on Monday nights, when one's brainmeats are still tender from all that weekending. The momentarily disturbingly named "Other Side of the Bear" series offers an all-acoustic program featuring full-time folk-types, moonlighting frontmen (or — eek! — drummers), bold novices, and nascent talents of all stripes. If you think acoustic music is for pussies, staying at home watching Bones is even pussier — so zap. This Monday (February 9) is an especially promising installment; here's a sampling.
Vikesh Kapoor, "Down by the River" (Live on WTBU)
Kapoor sings a song built around a refrain lifted from a song salvaged by Alan Lomax and later sung by Pete Seeger. His verses attach themselves seamlessly, and in this live take from a session recorded for BU student radio, the nervy flutter of his voice gives this simple send-off a twinge of urgency.
Spitzer Space Telescope, "Graknils and Gerkins"
When Dan McDonald (a/k/a Spitzer Space Telescope) takes the stage in this half-hour cable-access performance, he's power-strumming like Richie Havens at Woodstock. Of course, Havens has never taped "THANX 4 THE ADD, LOL" across his guitar, or sung "Nancy Whiskey" with a fake brogue. So it's kind of like Havens plus that stuff. Not really, though. McDonald's own description sounds about right: "dangerous folk."
Woody Pines, "Nashville"
The only out-of-towner on Monday's bill, Asheville's Woody Pines hauls a heap of authentic Southern-style juke stomp and mountain balladry. Here, he channels a cockeyed homage to a city where "they chew their tobacco thin," a line once sung by "The Dixie Dewdrop," Uncle Dave Macon. Will any of us understand the hayseed crap he's carrying on about? Probably not. But will it sound great? Yes.
Elizabeth Butters, "Hard Time A'Comin' "
"I was born in the wrong era," the Somerville singer, songwriter, guitarist, and dulcimer player says plainly. Given that Butters identifies with dust, there's something fresh about her approach to old-time folk songs. The barely lit stage in Northampton in this YouTube clip is a strangely fitting setting for her jaunty, lonely trip toward darker times.