Danny Barnes, Robyn Ludwick

Live Shots

Danny Barnes
Danny Barnes (Photo By Todd V. Wolfson)

Danny Barnes, Robyn Ludwick

Cactus Cafe, July 22

To some, a singer-songwriter has become the equivalent of a folk singer. But on Saturday night, Robyn Ludwick and Danny Barnes offered proof of just how far folk music really is from today's typical singer-songwriter wankery. Ludwick opened the show with a set of rawboned songs of life and love presented in a husky voice that recalled an early Lucinda Williams. Mandolin player Matt Slusher (ex-South Austin Jug Band) added complimentary fills and the occasional well-played solo, but Ludwick kept the spotlight with engaging stage presence and some new songs that managed to be rustic and hard-boiled – or as she put it so succinctly, "I've been writing a lot of tough-chick songs lately." Barnes joined in as she was finishing, amplifying the sound with his trademark banjo, resonator guitar, and electric guitar. After a short break, Barnes provided a distinctive and wide-ranging overview of his type of folk, running from guitar rags to death-metal banjo to a guitar tune composed with Robbie Fulks for a movie soundtrack. Concentrating on songs from his latest record, Get Myself Together (Terminus), he bobbed, weaved, and scatted his way through humorous originals like "Rat's Ass" and "Breasts," but also made some social commentary on "Wasted Mind," while covering Tim O'Brien's "I'm Running Out of Memory for You" and the Faces' "Ooh La La." Danny then generously lent center stage to Ludwick to end this night of 21st-century folk with a bluesy version of her own "Virginia."

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