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Loudon Wainwright III

Folksy for the Folks -- at Great American Music Hall

Both Loudon Wainwright III and The Roches (the co-headliners) make the kind of music that will make your folks want to get out the folding lawn chairs, don straw hats and attend an expensive music festival. Or, put another way, if you are the folks, your kids would probably jam pens into their eardrums before they’d accompany you to this show without at least a wig and a pair of large sunglasses. Bottom line: Wainwright and The Roches represent foagie folk music at its finest. You either really do not want to miss this -- or you really do.

Wainwright’s most recent album, Strange Weirdoes, doubles as the official soundtrack for Knocked Up, Hollywood’s latest attempt to lighten up the subject of unwanted pregnancy. Movie aside, the songs weep and weave a kind of folksy melancholy first made fabulous by the likes of Gram Parsons or Emmylou Harris. Numbers like “Grey in L.A.” or “So Much to Do” stand as emblematic of an album spruced up by the occasional instrumental gush and a general priority placed on straightforward poetry and melody. In short, given Wainwright’s prolific, folksy, and sometimes raunchily direct method of music-making, it’s music that only he could have produced.

Wainwright’s rich voice is to be matched in the limelight, however, by the singing dames of The Roches. Maggie, Terre and Suzzy Roche -- three sisters from New Jersey -- have been troubadouring together since the 60s; their career as a trio launched, in part, when Paul Simon asked them to join him to provide back-up vocals. Like Wainwright, The Roches' currency comes in the form of their casually accessible lyrics and full vocal suppleness. Blending back-of-the-neck-hair-raising harmonies, The Roches tackle everything from the expenses of Christmas to the inherent fucked-up-ness of husbands. Good stuff, especially if you’ve had your mid-lifer already. If not, well…you’ll either yawn or freak out: aging, one supposes, is just that way, and nobody captures it musically like these sirens from Park Ridge.

Music runs like blood in both families, of course. Loudon’s the father of two other (debatably better) musical children, immortalized in his songs: Rufus (“Rufus is a Tit Man”) and Martha (“Pretty Little Martha”). His ex-wives include singer-songwriters like Kate McGarringle and -- you guessed it -- Suzzy Roche. Though he re-married in 2005, Wainwright and Roche seem content to keep sharing a stage.

If all this folky family music-mongering seems weird to you, that’s okay. The music’s good (great, if you’re over 45) -- and besides, as Wainwright croons on the album’s title track, “Strange Weirdoes", “Isn’t it weird that two weirdoes can wind up not feeling so weird?”

Whatever, Loudon. But we still love you, weird and all.

Loudon Wainwright III w/ The Roches at the Great American Music Hall on Nov 18th, at 8 pm. Tickets are $35.