Dave Insley and the Careless Smokers

Wednesday, May 4; Frederick's Music Lounge (4454 Chippewa Street)

Punk rockers aren't supposed to like country. Tradition, memory, moral consequences, actually playing and singing in tune -- that's country. Not to mention the dancing: white people skipping or doing the hokey-pokey. Moshing rebellion vs. working-class sentiment -- the divide is as insipid as it is convenient. Punks (and their hipster indie comrades) are permitted exactly two country singers: Hank Williams (the first S&M star) and Johnny Cash (the original goth).

Born and raised in Kansas and now living in Arizona, Dave Insley knows a bit about bridging the gap and turning rockers on to honky-tonk. He fronted Chaingang, a country demolition crew, and the Trophy Husbands, who offered up brooding, trenchcoat twang like "Walk with Evil" and "Piss on Your Grave." Gone solo, Insley sounds more comfortable with traditional forms, but he still writes and sings with off-kilter, wound-too-tight angst. "I don't mind telling you I'm afraid of dying," he drawls in a nervous baritone. "I hate to come such a long way just to fail." He walks the sketchy line between mockery and sincerity, sometimes stumbling, sometimes hitting a convincing stride. Backed by members of the Grievous Angels (a departed Bloodshot band, one of the last to play Cicero's Basement), he keeps country on tenterhooks -- severe and catchy enough to draw some blood. How punk.

Show at 9 p.m. Call 314-351-5711 for ticket price and more information.

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