Arts Desk

Heartless Bastards @ SXSW


On the way to Austin I listened to a George Carlin comedy album, not sure which one it was. "White people have no business playing the blues. They give people the blues, they have no business playing them," he said.

Carlin's words came back into my mind while watching Heartless Bastards perform at Stubbs Bar-B-Que. Surely this was a situation that he would have appreciated, an all-white blues band chugging away beneath the looming visage of a scowling black man.

But while this scene had some serious Blues Hammer-elements going on, I'm not sure I completely believe Carlin. Heartless Bastards was pretty good. Erika Wennerstrom had an appropriately leathery voice, and they played a heavier and moodier set than I would have expected from a band sitting on a bill with the Decemberists.

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