Show: With Ghost of Paul Revere on Tuesday at Gypsy Sally’s.
Show starts at 8 p.m. 202-333-7700. www.gypsysallys.com.
$10 in advance, $12 at the door.
What separates Whiskey Shivers from all the other young string bands that play banjos and fiddles with the pell-mell momentum of punk rock? The most obvious, though hardly the most important, distinction is the quintet’s habit of performing barefoot. This bit of theatricality is symptomatic of the humor and showmanship that make its live shows so much fun.
Perhaps more crucial is the fact that Whiskey Shivers is based in Texas, not often thought of as a center for bluegrass and old-time music. That distance from the Asheville/Nashville nexus of string-band action allows the musicians to do a few things differently. For one, they’re one of the rare multiracial groups on the old-time scene, and that allows hints of the blues and Tex-Mex to sneak into their music. For another, they have absorbed the importance of original songwriting from the music scene in their adopted hometown of Austin.
That’s why the group asked the acclaimed Texas singer-songwriter Robert Ellis to produce its latest album, “Whiskey Shivers.” Ellis gave the band room to do the high-speed, carefree romps that are the staple of the live shows, but he also coaxed them into more understated tracks where the group’s fetching melodies and arresting lyrics can shine through. “Graves,” for example, is a stark chain-gang chant about a world overflowing with death. “Angel in the Snow,” by contrast, rhapsodizes an elusive woman with a bouncy tune whistled Disney-style.