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What separates John Mooney from the countless barroom ax-slingers who either slavishly parrot or bombastically bloat the blues canon? The Rochester, N.Y.-bred Mooney didn’t learn scratchy slide-guitar textures or gruff-voiced storytelling from old records alone. Mentored in picking by Mississippi legend Son House, Mooney subsequently hitchhiked cross-country, applying his lessons on street corners. After settling in New Orleans, he imbibed an encore of second-line rhythms from that city’s patriarchs of funk, and put together a band. Live and on record, with his combo Bluesiana, this adept student now renders both methods passionately and free of excess, often stirring them together. At 9:30 p.m. tonight and tomorrow at Twist & Shout, 4800 Auburn Ave., Bethesda. $10. (301) 652-3383. (Steve Kiviat)