Thursday, Aug. 31, High Noon Saloon, 9 p.m.
Most music columns are, by and large, wordy examples of enthymeme, a three-part rhetorical syllogism perfected by Aristotle in the fourth century B.C. For example:
Major Premise: "I think Cracker is awesome."
Minor Premise: "I am awesome."
And therefore, the unstated logical conclusion is:
"All awesome people think Cracker is awesome."
And, to a lesser extent: "I am old."
The thoroughly awesome Cracker was launched by guitarist Johnny Hickman and front man David Lowery following the breakup of Lowery's pioneering "college rock" band Camper Van Beethoven. Like CVB, Cracker was always "weird-cool," tweaking its host genre (Americana) like some "Star Trek" virus that ultimately leads to Mr. Sulu taking off his shirt.
Cracker had a few big hits and more than a few modest ones. You may remember "Low" and "Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)." The single "Get Off This" was one of those played-at-every-party favorites until it got played at too many parties and the band got less "radio-friendly" and their label, Virgin tossed them.
Recently, against Cracker's wishes, Virgin put these and others on a greatest hits compilation coincidentally timed to suck the air from their indie release of Greenland, Cracker's first new album in four years. Cracker's response was to rerecord all the songs on the compilation, in the same order, and release that album the same day as the Virgin abomination. Depending on who you ask, the indie release did better.
It's nice to hear the hits again, because Greenland is such a different direction for the band ' more '60s psychodelic than country, still witty but more emotional. It works. Because it was done by Cracker. And Cracker is awesome. You do the math.
Sunday, Aug. 27, Orton Park Festival, 6:30 p.m.
Buckwheat Zydeco is, to my count, the second Louisiana musician to come through town in as many weeks who lost a home in Hurricane Katrina. Having just seen Spike Lee's excellent documentary of the Katrina disaster, When the Levees Broke, I'm reminded how extremely pissed off I am at the federal government.
So, let's say it goes without saying that Zydeco's decades of great performances guarantee him to be the highlight of the Orton Park Festival, which should overall be very enjoyable and require one to waste none of the built-up rage being saved up for bastard-voting-out purposes this November.