9 p.m. Friday
The Blue Door
2805 N. McKinley
Those who like rawk with a serving of twang will appreciate the Deadstring Brothers.
Singer/guitarist Kurt Marschke has led the quintet through eight years, four albums and plenty of lineup changes, while delivering hard-hewn country-rock with needle-pegging bite. There are echoes of the Flying Burrito Brothers in their lingering ballads, and The Band in the rootsy, organ-driven rock, but what shines clearest is Rolling Stones’ ragged, country-blues swagger.
While other similarly minded acts such as Drive-By Truckers have found significant success, Marschke and company have had a harder row to hoe. Their self-titled 2003 debut was released in the U.K. before finding a U.S. release. Having hardly done any American touring, they hit the road with a passion through 2006 to make up for lost time.
The road-worn regimen frazzled the band, and led to the end of Marschke’s relationship with singer Masha Marjieh.
But it also tightened the unit. Their third album, 2007’s “Silver Mountain,” is a powerhouse, highlighted by some great playing and Marjieh’s sultry, white-hot vocal strut. She’s since left.
Earlier this year, Marschke moved himself, leaving Detroit for Nashville, Tenn., just prior to the release of their latest album, “Sao Paulo.”
“It makes more sense geographically to live in the middle of the country, as opposed to on the northern side of it. That was one of the main reasons, but it was also to be in a more competitive music environment,” Marschke said. “I had too much security in Michigan, too many friends. It just made me lay back way too much when I was off the road. I didn’t feel intense enough at all. I needed fear, and I think I got it.”
Seeing accomplished Nashville players like Chris Scruggs and Kenny Vaughan made him want to hang it up a couple times. But the challenge made him hungrier. As a result, “Sao Paulo” is darker.
“It was a bit of a heavy record,” he said. “You go through parts of your life where you feel isolated, and you just get that freaky, weird feeling. “¦ I had to make a record, and so it was pretty impossible to get out of it. I just went with it.”
He’s going to move his Detroit studio to Nashville, too, which will afford him more time to work on the next disc. In the meantime, the name of the game is touring, which suits Marschke fine. He’s even adding a new wrinkle to some shows.
“It’s definitely a live band, and I’m broadening the sound and adding an acoustic side,” Marschke said. “Some of that is a necessity, too, because the venues pay the opening bands money. I’m like, ‘Wait a second, we need that money. I can play. I can play more. Can we play three sets?’ We can break it down to acoustics. Don’t get that local band there ” not that I don’t like them ” it’s just that we need the fucking money.”
That will be the format for their gig at The Blue Door: all Deadstring Brothers, all night long.
“You end up playing longer sets, but it’s all good,” he says. “I love playing and playing in different formats, so it’s all going to be cool.””Chris Parker