Local Wire

Tom VandenAvond

Tom VandenAvond embodies everything that makes alt-country awesome. He's got a surly, drank-too-much-last-night-and-now-I-gotta-perform attitude, a killer take-no-shit slogan ("You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas"), and even an authentic trucker cap (no Hot Topic poseury here). One can hear wisps of such late greats as Jimmie Rodgers or even Huddie Ledbetter in VandenAvond's songs, which alternate between good ol' country and low-key folksy ballads about murdering cops in churches and other lurid subjects. His vocals are rich with twang and as raw as whiskey, and he could quite possibly match Tom Waits someday for grit, as he croons out subdued menace at times. But even when VandenAvond spins a yarn in "Lost on the Bottle" about possibly engaging in alcohol-fueled spousal abuse ("Some days I got mean things on my mind/There's an odd chance I might treat that woman unkind/If she don't pay me mind she might wind up in the pines"), you get the feeling it's sung with a playful wink.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.