A busy night at the World Cafe Live on Friday with two clear highlights: The Avett Brothers, the North Carolina disciples of The Band, who opened ears with an early evening downstairs set (and who play a sold out Trocadero on Saturday night), following a strummy Rhett Miller. And later, upstairs in a crowded room coursing with hard-edged blues and soul power, Austin, Texas R & B revue Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, who absolutely killed it, mixing classic Slim Harpo deep fried Southern funk with the stand-up-and-be-noticed party tunes from their new Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! They have as much contagious fun on stage as any band as I've seen this year. The band is back in town on June 18, opening for the New York Dolls at the Troc.
Also on hand: New Jersey songwriter Pete Yorn, who was backed by a surprisingly adept seven-piece band but whose own voice and identity was lost in the mix (and who did a kinda cool cover of New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle"); and the Delta Sprit, who I passed on in favor of a cheeseburger. And also The Revelations, featuring Tre Williams, who proferred a calm-after-the-storm old school soul vibe in contrast to Lewis' more hurried hyper- energetic tight approach, and closed a long day out with Bobby Bland's "Ain't No Love (In The Heart Of The City)."
I also caught a too-slick Free at Noon set earlier in the day with Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian (who makes a much poorer Otis Redding than Lewis), and a sleepy Citizen Cope, whose appeal continues to elude me. Some good Non-Comm performances were also broadcast on WXPN, in particular Zee Avi, a singer-songwriter from Borneo who seems to specialize in writing delicately pretty songs about disturbing subjects, like the heroine abuse saga, "Poppy."