Varmint (CD release)

Sophisticated musicians playing plainspoken music can result in either

an annoying irony-fest or a beautiful embrace of simple pleasures. In

the case of this great little Wayne Horvitz/Robin Holcomb unit, which

held down a weekly gig in Columbia City for a couple of years, playing

smart sets of sentimental tunes by Neil Diamond, Burt Bacharach, and

various Nashville stalwarts, pleasure won out by a mile. "No originals

and no rehearsals" was the guiding philosophy, but the band was

nothing if not tight and focused. You can hear it in their new CD,

recorded back in '06, and released tonight. Guitarist Tim Young, a

freak when he wants to be, here mixes beautifully with the pedal steel

of Jon Hyde, then steps out for some sweetly mournful soloing. Holcomb

is gorgeous as ever, maybe more than ever, as happens with many great

musicians when they put aside their need for innovation and just

reawaken old truths. Tonight the band reunites for the release party

with backing vocalists and special guests. Tractor Tavern, 5213

Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $15.

Thu., Feb. 28, 8 p.m., 2008

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