Angel Dean & Sue Garner | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Angel Dean & Sue Garner 

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Back in the 80s, Angel Dean, Sue Garner, and Amy Rigby lent their gorgeous vocal harmonies to a New York group called the Last Roundup. They put out a single album of homespun country, Twister (Rounder, 1986), and then disbanded. Garner went on to play in relatively experimental rock outfits like Fish & Roses and Run On, though she and Rigby also crafted delicate, clever pop in the Shams; Dean worked sporadically with country-rock bands like the Zephyrs and Shackwacky before moving to Providence, Rhode Island, with her husband, horror writer Jonathan Thomas. A few years ago she started visiting Garner in New York, bringing fistfuls of original tunes with lyrics penned by Thomas; the new Pot Liquor (Diesel Only) is the fruit of their renewed collaboration. The opener, "In the Shell," is reminiscent of Last Roundup's rustic honky-tonk, but from there the album's mood grows bleaker, as if the women had left Nashville for the mountains of West Virginia. Garner sticks close to Dean's lead, creating vocal intervals more like the wonderfully strident harmonies of the Carter Family than the silky blend she got with Rigby in the Shams. Though a number of guest players add simpatico instrumental touches to the album's backdrop of acoustic strumming--haunting slide guitar from Jeremy Hogg on "Dreams," gauzy reeds from Doug Wieselman on "Wider World"--the focus never strays from the natural bond between the two singers. They're friends for whom singing together is just an extension of conversation. Peter Salett opens. $8. Saturday, July 10, 7 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Freida Dean.

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