The roots music genre holds the unique distinction of being both more “real” and often more self-conscious, stylized and theatrical in its own way than pop. Pop chases only the dangling carrot of continual novelty, while roots digs for the buried, dirty carrots of the authentic past. There is thus a kind of polemical element in roots music: Every natural vocal mannerism, vintage guitar tone and boot brand can be read as a canonical claim of some kind.
The Saugerties-bred band Pitchfork Militia has been complicating the local roots music scene for a number of years now with the exact combination of irony and genuine rustic menace that its name implies. The trio of Peter Head, Joe Morgan and Karl Krause plays saloon blues and ‘verb-soaked rockabilly with a wild streak of “other:” echoes of spaghetti Western composer Ennio Morricone, Frankensurf, punk ranchero and multicultural noir, with an emphasis on the Southwest border.
Sounds good on paper, better in person. The spacious power-trio format foregrounds Head’s stinging, strangely articulate and melodic lead guitar playing. The rhythm section of Krause on bass and Morgan on drums finds that elusive spot on the groove curve where “solid” meets “volatile.” Stability is always in trouble, but never fully lost. If that were an easy thing to do, then every band would sound like the Who or the early Attractions, because there’s magic in that special place between control and the loss of it. The psychobilly mythology may be stylized, but you’ll hear some genuine musical danger in the sound.
This is nightmare roots music, utterly unconcerned with the politics of authenticity. On Friday, April 5, Pitchfork Militia is joined at the BSP Lounge by some like-minded acts who issue a collective FU to purists and antiquarian hipsters everywhere. The Gold Hope Duo is the latest and most primal and ecstatic pass at dirt-floor rockabilly by that Hudson Valley musical ubiquity Lara Hope (Tigeriss, the Ark-Tones et cetera). Early field recordings find Lara in raw and rare form. Four Gun Ridge made a downright slick album of nasty roots rock a while back and is working another. When required, as all bands are, to define its style, 4 Gun Ridge follows the apt description “aggressive country” with a question mark, indicating just how little its members care about what you call it.
Pitchfork Militia (11:30 p.m.), Gold Hope Duo (10:30 p.m.), 4 Gun Ridge (9:30 p.m.) and Angelina Peonie (9 p.m.), Friday, April 5, 18+, $7, BSP Lounge, 323 Wall Street, Kingston; https://bsplounge.com.