Modern Lovers' Jonathan Richman Radiates Goofball Charm

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Jonathan Richman

Sounding barely old enough to get into his hometown club the Middle East, the Modern Lovers' Jonathan Richman advised the kids to ditch college and live it up before they have to grow up, with "Dignified & Old," from the band's '76 debut. For over 30 years, Richman, now 55, has Peter Panned his way through popular music, from the Modern Lovers' Velvets-inspired dissonant jags to his stripped-down solo work, built on rockabilly and classic AM radio pop—heard most recently on 2004's Not So Much to Be Loved as to Love (Sanctuary). Whether courtly on "My Love Is a Flower Just Beginning to Bloom"—"like those things from your garden that spring from gloom"; childish ("Here Come the Martian Martians," "I'm a Little Dinosaur"); or somewhere in between, exhibiting sexual frustration with naïveté (the veiled one-hander "Astral Plane"), Richman is never without sincerity. His goofball charm radiates from a tree in his There's Something About Mary cameo—and onstage, too, where he burns through Springsteen's steam with long dance and clap breaks, backed by longtime drummer Tommy Larkins, who gives the enigmatic songwriter ample time to spiel. With Los Flacos. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599, $12. 8 p.m. Also Tues., Dec. 12. KATE SILVER

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