Play That Bluesy Music

Jimmy Page don't know dick about the blues. Same goes for Jack White. And David Evans? Come on, no ridiculous nickname ("The Edge"? Really?) will make you sound like an expert on the torn and the frayed. It Might Get Loud, sure, but volume is no substitute for the dustbowl ballads of a Leadbelly or the stark blues of a Skip James. One-time local resident Frank Fairfield knows this. On his self-titled Tompkins Square debut, the Los Angeles–based musician eschews amplification altogether, choosing to perform traditionals like "The Hesitating Blues" in the style they were originally struck. Live, he plays banjo, guitar, and fiddle in a breathless skitter, as if his fingers were waterbugs on a pond, coming to rest for only a moment before flying off elsewhere. His shirt buttoned up high and his hair slicked and parted to the side, he sings in an otherworldly croak that would've made Robert Johnson proud. Fairfield made his living as a busker until recently, when he was discovered by former S.F. resident and Foreign Born leader Matt Popieluch, who hooked him up with Tompkins Square and the Fleet Foxes, who adored him so much they took him on tour. Fairfield may be just a youngster, but rumor has it he spent some rather decadent years in Oakland, which should make this homecoming show that much more raucous. The blues don't get much more authentic than this.

Frank Fairfield plays with Pete Devine's Jug Band and Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three.
Sun., June 27, 9 p.m., 2010

 
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