Chet Vincent's band, The Big Bend, offers a rootsy conglomerate that spans three generations of audience appeal. He knows the blues, approximating the upbeat R&B style pervading Steel City backrooms with wailing harmonica in hand, while "Silver Dollar Table," with its funky guitar, Rhodes solo and soulful backing vocals, is a bit of bar-rock with DMB and Lenny Kravitz in the bong water. And some songs, like "The Last Night With Marie" (complete with handclaps), are straight alt-country, raising an eyebrow at Jeff Tweedy or Jason Molina.
When the proceedings get a bit darker, like the guitar reverb and ghostly keyboards on "It Only Happens When It's Late," Vincent evokes the hour when the bar closes and the night crackles with mystery. The title track, about a rental car conking out in New Mexico, pays homage to the desert-rock sensibilities of Neil Young.
One problem with this otherwise well-recorded disc (a product of Mr. Small's studios) is that Vincent sometimes yelps desperately -- not a good look when exploring an idiom with rough, masculine edges. He sounds best when dropping to a brooding register (a la Leonard Cohen) or affecting a midrange drawl like Mick Jagger, imbuing a song like "Sixty Hours" with the authenticity of a well-trodden road: "We bought shoes and sugarcubes at a store on Route 19 / on our way to Louisville, or was it New Orleans?"
Whether or not Vincent has ever been to the places he writes about, he convinces the listener he's at home there. This solid effort should earn Vincent his place in Pittsburgh's Americana landscape.
Chet Vincent & The Big Bend CD release with The Harlan Twins and Nik Westman & Central Plains. 9 p.m. Fri., Oct. 30. Howlers Coyote Café, 4509 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $5. 412-682-0320