By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
The lines separating bluegrass, jazz, rock and folk are made wonderfully hazy on Rough Shop's sophomore album. The quartet boasts three accomplished singer-songwriters, each mining a different vein of American music and adding a distinct note to the vocal interplay. Andy Ploof and John Wendland played together in One Fell Swoop in the '90s before that band split in 2003. A year later, the pair teamed with bassist and singer Anne Tkach to form Rough Shop. Those who have only seen Tkach as the current drummer for Bad Folk (or as the longtime bassist for the late, great Nadine) will be surprised to hear her clear, gentle voice draped over these waltzes and rags. She takes the lead on five of the twelve tracks collected on Here Today, opening the disc with the languorous, mournful "Clean Slate" and closing it with the similarly tender "Stumbling Angel." While many of Tkach's cuts sound sweetly somber, on the title track she settles into a relaxed, acoustic-jazz sway that recalls a more folkified Madeleine Peyroux. Wendland's "Golden Slumber Inn" is a highlight here — the detail-rich cheating song drops in at least two Beatles references alongside some slippery dobro licks. Several of Ploof's songs highlight his deft instrumental skills and give a nice counterpoint to his sometimes-flat voice; "Dance All Night" gives a brisk, mandolin-led look at the piety and revelry that took place at big-tent religious revivals. Of course, "revival" is a hard word to avoid when encountering this type of roots music, but Rough Shop finds a way to mix tradition and idiosyncrasy in a comforting and compelling fashion.
8:30 p.m. Friday, March 28. Schlafly Bottleworks, 7260 Southwest Avenue, Maplewood. Free. 314-241-2337.
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