Rose, who paints faces for cash outside Saints games in the fall, walks the line in performance between gentle and barbed, weaving beatnik tangents through heartbreakers like "Molly" and "Shell of a Man." He's a fleet-fingered Broadway cherub as much as he is a less polite George Carlin with an ear for Bartók dissonance.
"Down in the Christ-haunted South, they say you can't be saved without Jesus Christ," he says. "But every 20 years someone goes into a Shoney's and shoots 24 people anyway. I think a little bloodletting, a little at a time — that's excellent."
As for his performances: "I play piano and I improvise, that's it. I'll play some notes and do some one-liners. There's one song that goes, 'You make the bed and I'll put the rifle in the window,' but that says it all, so I don't need more words than that."
At the Lily Pad, Rose is asking that audience members haul in their own instruments to play between songs ("in lieu of applause"). "It's the Boston T-Mobile Party — there are a lot of celling points." (Nyuk-nyuk.)
Gallagher will be recording the entire set for underground release in the future and leading the group-participation efforts at the show. What is he looking for from Rose? "I don't really know what to expect, except that the guy's a genius. And he'll be sleeping on my couch."
"AN EVENING WITH BIFF ROSE" | Lily Pad, 1353 Cambridge St., Cambridge | July 15 at 10 pm | $10 | All ages | www.lily-pad.net
: Music Features
, Jesus Christ, David Bowie, Johnny Carson, More