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Monday, April 12, 2010

Edgar Allan Cash @ Circle-A Café

April 10, 2010

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Desmond Bone, the voice and driving force behind Edgar Allan Cash, entered the Circle-A Café carrying his guitars. He was wearing a black cowboy hat, his long graying hair hanging down the back, his face thoughtful and weathered. A stub of a cigarette, unlit, was in the corner of his mouth.

He strapped on his guitar and got set to play the café’s “Alive at 8” series. The showcase is a chance to catch live music in an intimate setting from 8-10PM Saturday nights.

On this evening Bone’s back up included two guitar players, bass, drums, a bongo player and a flutist. They looked like a band of gypsies and took up a large part of the bar’s floor space themselves. A small crowd of about 20 people, ranging from wide-eyed college kids to vets of the Milwaukee music scene, had shown up for the set.

Tapping their namesake, the band started with “Folsom Prison Blues,” the first of many Johnny Cash covers throughout the set. They also covered “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky,” “Walk the Line,” “Big River,” as well as a duet with Bone and singer Ellen Warren on “Jackson.”

Besides Cash covers, the band performed two songs by songwriter and producer Dave Alvin (of The Blasters, X and The Knitters): “Bus Station,” and “4th of July.” They also ran through songs by Steve Earle, Bob Dylan and some honky-tonk versions of songs by The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

Some of the band’s best-performed material, though, is their own. Bone brings an emotional desperation to his gritty “Dig Me a Hole,” a song that’s like a shot of rough whiskey. The band sometimes growls at you and other times you feel your toe tapping along.

The band ended the set on a somber note with another Johnny Cash cover, “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” The song is about a Sunday morning hangover, and many of the band’s celebratory fans were well on their way to living out Johnny Cash lyrics by the show’s end.