With his appearance on the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's "Acme," veteran Chicago rhythm and bluesman Andre Williams reached a new indie-rock audience. Yet his first album since that breakthrough is not a showcase for his '50s style, which produced such minor hits as "Bacon Fat" and "Shake a Tail Feather," but a project for "insurgent country" label Bloodshot. Like Paul McCartney's new "Run Devil Run," however, the Alabama-bred Williams's "Red Dirt" unearths the era when country and R&B easily cohabited. Backed by the rootsy Sadies, Williams performs a half-dozen covers, including "Busted" (a 1963 hit for Ray Charles) and Lefty Frizell's "I'm an Old Old Man (Tryin' to Live While I Can)." Some of them are quite twangy, notably the ones that feature Travis Good's fiddle, but with the rambunctious energy of juke-joint R&B. Though Williams somewhat restrains his earthy sense of humor, songs like "Hey Truckers" and "My Sister Stole My Woman" wouldn't be welcome in either the old or the new Nashville. Not that it matters. On such jaunty originals as "She's a Bag of Potato Chips," Williams makes a gleeful hash of contemporary market segmentation.
Appearing Friday at the Garage.
To hear a free Sound Bite from Andre Williams, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8128. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)