T-Model Ford doesn’t play stereotypical bar-band blues, but then again, he’s not a stereotypical bluesman. His backstory—he was once on a chain gang, he served time for murder—simultaneously repels and attracts, sort of like his raw guitar playing and ragged vocals, which have been on display since his debut CD on Fat Possum Records in 1997. He was 76 then (or possibly 73; the birth records are murky) and playing with a drummer named Spam. After taking a break from touring for much of the last decade, Ford got a pacemaker put in and hit the road. Now he plays with the Seattle trio Gravelroad and has a live record, The Ladies Man, to show for it. Minus Spam’s propulsive Mississippi groove, Ford’s Jack Daniels-fueled melodies and weird tunings still lift tunes like “Chickenhead Man” despite his new band’s rather conventional playing.
FORD PLAYS AT 10 P.M. WITH THE SHIRKS AT THE VELVET LOUNGE, 915 U ST. NW. $12. (202) 462-3213.