We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
How many A&R men and record label reps must have wandered past the expert buskers of the New York City subway system, stroking their chins and wondering about the possibilities: If only they had more looks—and less tuberculosis. Some germophobic record dude’s prayers were answered with the discovery of Kaki King, a fresh-faced NYU grad whose Michael Hedges–inspired guitar-playing and waifish voice took her out of one tube and into another as a guest on The Late Show With David Letterman during a brief major-label stint. In the largely bearded world of acoustic guitar, King’s added a welcome feminine voice. On her third release, …Until We Felt Red, she puts the “ease” back in “easy listening,” avoiding the heady ragas and improvisational explorations popular among many contemporary string-box players in favor of wistful plucking and soothing pop. King enlisted producer and Tortoise percussionist John McEntire to help her create songs like “First Brain,” where her gentle finger-picking is subtly complemented by synth-bloops and fluegelhorns, placing her sonically far away from Takoma Park, the spiritual home of freak folk—and sometimes a little too close to ’90s shoegaze for comfort. Still, it’s got appeal beyond guitar nerds—which suggests she won’t have to earn her living in a subway, or at a Subway, anytime soon. Kaki King performs with Christine Baze at 8 p.m. at the State Theatre, 220 N. Washington St., Falls Church. $15. (703) 237-0300. (Aaron Leitko)