November 29th, 2009 |

Where a twentysomething white kid from almost-suburban small town Eagle Rock got the soul of an old Delta blues player is anyone’s guess. Kenneth Pattengale displayed his love of traditional American music combining elements of blues, Tom Waits, and good ol’ fashioned country & western at Hotel Café Nov. 25. The show kicked off a monthlong residency celebrating the release of his seventh album, Speak!, and pulled in a decent size crowd—though Butch Walker held the headline spot that night, those ticketholders had to wait outside until Kenneth cleared the stage before allowed into the venue. With a five-piece band featuring fiddle, upright bass, accordion/keys, acoustic guitar and lap steel guitar (and sometimes percussion provided by Kenneth’s stomping foot), Kenneth delivered empassioned vocals recalling Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and at times even Louis Armstrong. His music has an Americana feel without the mama-ran-off-with-my-brother-in-law lyrics, instead telling uplifting stories such as his dream of always wanting a daughter. “I feel like I’m trying to rush through this set,” he said toward the end of the show, knowing there was a full queue outside awaiting entrance for the next act. “That is the wrong approach. I should revel in my time up here.” You can experience the revelry at the official record release show Dec. 2, at noon Dec. 5 for an interview and live performance on KCRW, and throughout the month during his residency at Hotel Café. A free copy of Speak! will be given out at every performance.

Linda Rapka