Music » Livewire

Split Lip Rayfield

With Uncle Scratch's Gospel Revival. Wednesday, August 10, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Does the word "bluegrass" excite you about as much as sipping sarsaparilla with your grandpa? Well, Split Lip Rayfield will burn those preconceptions from your brain. And if you're a true-blue bluegrass fan, don't let the Split Lip boys' tattoos and punk-rock past scare you off. These guys know how to pick, pluck, and harmonize.

Busting out of Kansas in the mid-'90s, SLR developed a small but rabid following via three hell-bent discs on Bloodshot and wild-eyed live shows, where they've shared stages with the likes of Del McCoury and Leftover Salmon. After a short recording hiatus, they returned with last year's ragged and ribald Should Have Seen It Coming. Nowadays, SLR mixes in a few more slow numbers -- like the terrifically titled "Just Like a Gillian Welch Song" -- with its customary hillbilly speedballs, but the band's still singing white-trash celebrations of trucks, drugs, and drinking. This is moonshine campfire music of the finest kind. Split Lip's furiously fun performances are worthy of your hard-earned bucks, but did we mention that this one's a freebie?

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