click to enlarge
If it's difficult to create a compelling, authentic voice within the harmonic, melodic and lyrical constraints of country blues, singer, songwriter, guitarist and bus driver Mark Branch, aka Markiss Blowfish, doesn't show the strain. The title cut of his new CD, “Come Along With Me,” won song of the year from the Virginia Association of Songwriters and Composers; the rest is equally rich in straightforward, rootsy charm. Branch has an appealing, lived-in voice, and his metrically loose lyrics are enlivened with conviction and spiced with the occasional humorously cryptic rhyme. Sharing the bill is Hotel X, the venerable Richmond underground free-jazz ravers reinvented as an Afro-Caribbean funk ensemble, which is less of a stretch than it sounds. Markiss Blowfish (with guitar accompanist Chuck Kenworth) and Hotel X will perform at the Neighborhood Resource Center, 1519 Williamsburg Road, on March 19 at 8 p.m. $5. 864-5797.