After nearly two decades of fronting Minneapolis proto-Americana legends The Jayhawks, and his membership in the supergroup Golden Smog, there's probably little to say about Gary Louris that alt-country fanatics don't already know. They're probably also stoked about the polished, middle-of-the-road mellowness oozing forth on Louris' new solo debut, Vagabonds. No Depression trivia buffs might even know that Louris co-produced the recent Sadies album, and country slickers might be aware that he played guitar on the Dixie Chicks' Taking the Long Way.
But what's more interesting about Louris' upcoming performance at Mr. Small's is that his backing band is Vetiver.
Led by San Francisco's Andy Cabic -- who has toured the globe in Devendra Banhart's group and played in North Carolina indie rockers The Raymond Brake -- Vetiver is one of the key West Coast freak-folk acts who have been talked up endlessly in mags like Arthur and The Wire for the past few years. Though Vetiver is far from unknown -- the band has been busy running around with The Shins and Bright Eyes -- the crew has never stopped in Western PA before now.
And with the droney accessibility, loping rhythms and glistening orchestral production of Vetiver's latest album, To Find Me Gone, there's no reason why this bunch of bearded '90s slackers can't find a place on public radio stations that favor all the same references to the '70s anyway: Grateful Dead, Gram Parsons, Neil Young. The conspiracy that keeps the likes of Will Oldham and Joanna Newsom off the boomer radar might just fall away when a crowd of middle-agers sways along to Cabic's gently convincing backporch vocals, then witnesses how Vetiver's members can tear up a Louris number like "I Wanna Get High." Some will inevitably do just that.
Gary Louris with Vetiver. 8 p.m. Sat., March 29. Mr. Small's Theatre, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $20. 21 and over. 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com