2DG began in 1992 as a collaboration between Shelley and singer/songwriter Tim Foljahn, who had just settled in Hoboken, N.J., armed with a book of songs he'd written during several years of drifting between locales such as New Orleans, Chicago and Albuquerque, and everywhere in the middle. Eventually, the duo added a bassist (original bassist Dave Motamed was recently replaced with Janet Wygal) and an occasional second guitarist/vocalist, Christina Rosenvinge, to form a full-fledged band with a fleshed-out sound.
Two Dollar Guitar is a band never willing to remain stagnant, and always undertaking that which is least expected. Comprising their debut single, "Lost Bird," was the scraping of an unrosined violin, percussion from Shelley and autobiographical lyrics from Folijahn; subsequent albums have remained experimental (incorporating pedal steel, blues harp, free jazz and delta blues elements) while honing the band's sound into something more cohesive than its early forays. Nineteen-ninety-eight saw the release of two 2DG-related projects: a solo album by Foljahn (recorded under the name La Lengua Asesina) and Train Songs, a Two Dollar Guitar album consisting of improvisational instrumentals, a move which could be interpreted as an attempt to refine the band's two essential elements of song and sound by isolating them.
The proper Two Dollar Guitar follow-up record, Weak Beats and Lame-Ass Rhymes (Smells Like Records) reveals that for 2000 2DG has evolved into an outfit vaguely resembling the Silver Jews, David Berman's vehicle for his unique brand of sharp-witted poetic wordplay. Both bands feature obviously well-read frontmen with deep and somewhat flat voices (Foljahn's resembles a cross between Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave) and somewhat typical indie-rock backing, though 2DG has the edge on experimentalism. And Foljahn's songs are not quite as clever as Berman's, instead presenting a more world-weary outlook on his experiences. And just as with the Silver Jews, once you get used to the vocal style, there is much worth discovering.
As a testament to the esteemed company the band keeps, Weak Beats features guest appearances from guitarist extraordinaire Nels Cline, Carla Bozulich (of the Geraldine Fibbers and Scarnella), Smokey Hormel (who's played with Beck and Tom Waits) and Doug Easley, among others.
Catch Two Dollar Guitar perform with openers Caliche Con Carne at 9 p.m. Tuesday, February 22, at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave. Admission to the all-ages show is $5. Call 884-0874 for more information.
GLAM SLAM: Feel gypped because you missed out on '70s glam rock and '80s-era goth? You'll get your chance to relive those shining cultural movements this week when the Second Annual Glam and Goth Fest hits town. Anyone who attended last year's event will surely never forget the disturbingly amusing sight of grown men wearing more makeup than a pre-penitentiary Tammy Faye Baker and the blissful T-Rex-style sounds that emanated from them. This year's lineup features Phoenix glam gods Psycho Gypsy, San Diego's Foxxy Roxx and industrial/goth outfit Victims From Ecstacy, also from Phoenix.
If the image of fishnet-clad men playing guitar isn't overly unsettling, check out the Glam and Goth Fest at 9 p.m. Friday, February 18, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is $6, and you can call the club at 622-8848 for further details.
SPECIAL FX: To fans of punk rock, NOFX needs no introduction. For 15 years the California quartet has been churning out album after album of funny, bratty, melodically inspired punk, with the occasional foray into ska. Fat Mike, El Hefe and the boys consistently skewer targets like the status quo, the punk rock and riotgrrl elite, and (like any self-respecting punk band) the government in songs which on average clock in at two minutes or less. How punk is that?
Joining NOFX are California punk legends and founders of BYO Records, Youth Brigade, as well as Bueno and Pasta Rocket. The show kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 17, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Tickets are $12. Call 798-3333 for more info.
UNTRADITIONAL TWOSOME: The Zeitgeist concert series of experimental jazz continues this week with a performance by the duo Theo Bleckmann and John Hollenbeck. Bleckmann, an improvisational vocalist whose voice is like an otherworldly horn, has previously worked with bassist Mark Dresser, composer Philip Glass (on the Kundun soundtrack), guitarist Ben Monder and chanteuse Sheila Jordan. Hollenbeck is a versatile percussionist/composer who has played with or composed for Pablo Ziegler's tango quintet, David Krakauer's Klezmer Madness, and Meredith Monk, among others.
The duo appears at 8 p.m. Monday, February 21, at the Mat Bevel Institute, 530 N. Stone Ave. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. For further details, call 882-7154.