“Both spontaneous and crafted” is how Rolling Stone described The Kudzu Duo’s “Pushin’ My Luck,” and the same is true of their live performances. The duo — Reed Turchi on guitar, Lemuel Hayes on drums — will play on Tuesday, April 7, at St. Lawrence Arts in Portland.

To see them on stage is to watch two veteran musicians taking turns leading, responding to each other, and trading ideas as they rock and groove. Drawing on influences ranging from Mississippi Fred McDowell, R.L. Burnside, and the Allman Brothers Band to the African blues of Tinariwen and Bombino, with occasional nods to JJ Cale, Tedeschi and Trucks, and even Randy Newman, the Kudzu Duo redefines the possibilities for what is, at heart, a two-piece blues/rock band.

Featured in American Songwriter and Fretboard Journal, Reed has been called “an old soul” by Glide Magazine: “We feel like we are sitting right there in some lonely cabin deep amongst the pines and the kudzu sipping whiskey and listening to him play his heart out.” And while he has in fact recorded an album (Angel’s Share) on the top floor of a rickhouse filled with aging barrels of Willett Rye, Oxford American has recognized he’s “pushing the boundaries” of the Hill Country blues that inspired him to turn to slide guitar, and American Standard Time has called his work “The sound of a new American music … Turchi has become an indomitable force.”

Lemuel Hayes, from Athens, Georgia, has played in everything from musical theater to Beatles cover bands and the three-piece country band Buck N Stuff, and has toured with a wide variety of acts including Berlin, Alicia Witt, and Cindy Wilson of the B-52s. Drawing from that well of experience, he accompanies Reed, but also challenges him.

“We’ve got songs we come ready to play,” Reed says, “but any given night, there’s no telling what’s going to happen up there. That’s the fun of it.”

Tickets are $15/$18 at the door. St. Lawrence Arts is located at 76 Congress St., Portland. For more information, call (207) 775-1248 or visit stlawrencearts.org.


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