Billy Bragg/Michelle Shocked | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Billy Bragg/Michelle Shocked 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

If the term "folk music" still makes you think of baby boomers getting bleary-eyed over Peter, Paul and Mary, you probably haven't been listening to Billy Bragg or Michelle Shocked. Sounding vaguely like Phil Ochs and Woody Guthrie filtered through the Clash, Billy Bragg sets his tough agitprop and coarsely moving ballads against an electronic guitar sound (usually unaccompanied) that shoots sparks every which way but right. Depending upon whether you get your cultural information from the Revolutionary Worker or the National Review, Bragg is either the reigning social conscience of British pop or a preachy pinko crank with a throat condition. While he may be preachy, he's never dull. When I saw him perform on the west coast last week, he combined a terrific set of songs with a large number of political announcements, a voter registration drive, and even his own version of the Socialist Comedy Hour. Bragg's politics are often most acute when they're the most personal, especially on "Levi Stubbs' Tears," one of the very few songs that have anything interesting to say about how music affects ordinary people's lives. Equally likely to defy expectations is Michelle Shocked, who will open for Bragg. While her stage name may make you suspect that she's some sort of shrieking punkette, she is in fact a west Texas folk troubadour with a great knack for story telling. Her Texas Campfire Tapes must rank as the best major-label album ever recorded entirely on a Sony Walkman. Tonight, 7:30 PM, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

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

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Roger Moore

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
April 30
Performing Arts
June 26

Popular Stories