In The Flesh 

Deadstring Brothers
Wednesday, April 25
The Intersection, Grand Rapids

Fifteen men at a Deadstring gig? (Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.) Thanks to the last-minute cancellation of headliner Will Hoge, the crowd was sparse at Grand Rapids' Intersection nightclub last week for the kickoff of a Deadstring Brothers' tour. There were about 25 people there — and when you factor in opening acts and their girlfriends, the number of paying customers numbered a scant few. The low turnout coupled with the debut of some new material and a new lineup gave the show the vibe of a glorified rehearsal.

Singer, guitarist, songwriter and band mastermind Kurt Marschke is still joined by singer and muse Masha Marijeh and drummer E. Travis Harrett. Rounding out the band is a trio of Brits who had only just hit town (thanks to some visa troubles). Spencer Cullum's lead guitar and pedal steel playing left jaws agape. (And, attention, ladies: He's a cutie.) His brother Jeff plays bass, filling in for Philip Skarich, who is busy with LCD Soundsystem. The band was tentative, but a sense of freshness and joyful energy made it work and worthwhile.

The band played two new songs, tentatively titled "Heavy Load" and "No Hiding Love." The tunes were more aggressive and showed Marijeh taking more of a central role, sounding like a pissed-off Sister Rosetta Tharpe.


The Deadstring Brothers and Matt Mays play Wednesday, May 2 at Club Bart, 22728 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-548-8746.

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