Jim White at the Evening Muse tonight (10/11/2012)



At the height of the alt-country craze, Jim White’s strange and enchanting 1997 debut, Wrong-Eyed Jesus! (The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted), provided welcome relief to all the earnest young men clutching whiskey bottles and dancing with the girls at the bar. Where a lot of young country rockers desperately sought authenticity by drinking hard and behaving poorly, here was a mature performer with loads of actual mileage on him — he’d driven a N.Y.C. cab, been a professional surfer, a fashion model, drifter, religious fanatic, apostate, drug addict — seeking the keys back to something resembling childhood innocence. His four full lengths since then have included deeply melancholic country fare; bucolic Appalachia folk that drifts past on banjos and strings like overheated summer days; gospel-flavored hymnals full of gothic imagery and found-sounds conjuring with equal fervor the secular and spiritual; and junkyard swamp blues-rumblers you imagine blasting forth from the muscle car White drove through the deep South in the 2004 documentary Searching for Wrong-Eyed Jesus. The real people in that film are the same marginalized ones in White’s songs — preacher’s wayward sons, meth-heads, jailbirds, Greyhound bus riders, trailer-dwellers and the like — whose battles lie with inner demons far more than historical Southern baggage. White’s one of them, too, and because of that his between-song banter seems a mere extension of his captivating songs. In an authenticity obsessed genre choked with tropes and musical deadwood lying around since the Skynyrdian age, White upholds the best legacy of Southern eccentricity, and writes a damn fine song to boot. $15/$17. Oct. 11, 8 p.m. Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. 704-376-3737.

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