The holidays can be a balmy drag around Lafayette. Acadiana’s habit of sweltering through the winter can leave plenty of locals out of the holiday spirit from Thanksgiving until the New Year. This month is slated heavy with dour Americana, fragile folk, and jagged soul. Just in time for holiday angst.

Friday, December 8

Dylan LeBlanc & The Pollies with Sean Bruce (Lafayette)

Dylan LeBlan & The Pollies with Sean Bruce
Image courtesy of Dylan LeBlanc & The Pollies

At one point, Shreveport songwriter Dylan LeBlanc was pegged for a 21st century Neil Young. And while his middle south croon has a softer outline than Young’s scraggly Canadian drawl, his penchant for homespun pop sensibility and wide-brimmed hats make a convincing enough parallel. His 2016 record Cautionary Tale hit near universal national praise for its mature, tuneful and lackadaisical introspection, reminiscent of Young’s Laurel Canyon angst on Harvest and After the Gold Rush. That’s landmark praise for any young songwriter. Since wrapping the cycle for Cautionary, LeBlanc has been testing new material on continued international tours, backed by fellow Single Lock Records outfit The Pollies, who play the Stray Gators to LeBlanc’s Neil Young — not yet grungy enough for Crazy Horse. Check out the blue-eyed Bill Withers wurlitzer groove on “Domino,” one of the sneak peaks percolating in live videos on the interweb.

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Tuesday, December 12

The Wood Brothers
Acadiana Center for the Arts

The Wood Brothers
Image courtesy of Acadiana Center for the Arts

If you’re familiar with the acrobatic bass runs Chris Wood plays in pop-jazz/jam band outfit Medeski, Martin and Wood, you’d likely be surprised by the relative timidity of his playing behind brother Oliver, principal songwriter of the siblings’ folk trio. Sure, The Wood Brothers can flat match the jaw-dropping musicality that sold MM&W, but the Brothers’ real hook is that they have hooks, in the Songwriting 101 sense of the word. Where MM&W mainstreamed jazz for jam band bros and co-eds in the mid 1990s, The Wood Brothers punch up the mid-century American songbook for the World Café crowd, with emulsified three part harmony and a rhythm section that rumbles, even when it’s rapped on bongo made out of an acoustic guitar. For the Lafayette audience, they’d be wise to trot out this tequila-mellow rendition of the Lil Bob classic “I Got Loaded.”

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Saturday, December 16

Twain with Julie Odell (NOLA), Man is Flower (Lafayette)
Presented by Sickbay: Worrytime

SIckbat: Worrytime
Image courtesy of Sickbay

The lacquered tones on Twain’s 2017 offering Rare Feeling bare the influence of producer/collaborator Scott McMicken, the mousier-voiced of the two principal Dr. Dog songwriters, and 1970s cult songwriter Fred Neil, but the aching tenderness is all Mt Davidson. Over the past few years, the Texas solo artist’s mossy tenor and crisp fingerpicking have won him gigs within the inner rings of the hip folk and Americana scenes, performing sideman duties in bands like The Deslondes and the Low Anthem. On standout track “Hank & Georgia,” Davidson personifies the internal conflict between feminine and masculine spirits into a listless married couple. “You’re going to have to learn to love the part of yourself that you hated for so long,” he coos in a muted howl. (Don’t I know it, Twain.) His solo performances are lonesome, subtle and captivating — the perfect timbre for living room shows like the Worrytime series.

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Friday, December 22

Noelle Tannen & The Filthy No-No’s with Rareluth (Lafayette)
The Platform at Dat Dog

Noelle Tannen & The Filthy No Nos
Image courtesy of Noelle Tannen & The Filthy No Nos

Noelle Tannen’s vocal attack is not roundly soulful, but plucky and angular, emblematic of her southern-by-way-of-Brooklyn approach to the genre. A native of New York who splits time there and in New Orleans, she has both the church upbringing to testify and an instinct for the avant-garde. Nina Simone proved those two impulses aren’t mutually exclusive. Tannen’s band, the Filthy No-No’s, swell and sway under the histrionics of her voice, which chip an edge in the ensemble’s arrangements. The effect is cutting and salty, differentiating her work from the easy listening of the more faithful soul revivals burning up the streaming services these days. Check out the mind- and genre-bending “Skin” off her 2017 self-titled release.

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