David Wax is one of the universe’s misplaced souls, a Mexicali Folk troubadour whose soul was inexplicably dropped into the relentlessly Caucasian flannel-and-denim backwoods of Missouri. Wax found his musical passion while working with the American Friends Service Committee in rural Mexico, where he returned after finishing his degree at Harvard.
On a yearlong fellowship, Wax began absorbing the rich heritage of Son, a particular Mexican Folk genre, and applying those rhythms and instruments (including the guitar-like jarana and the quijada, a percussion device that literally utilizes the jawbone of an ass) to his own unique translation of Midwestern Folk, Country and Rock. After starting the Museum, Wax met Suz Slezak, a fiddler and well-rounded student of Folk and Roots music. The twosome has remained the core of DWM for the past four years.
The past year has been momentous for the David Wax Museum, from their triumphant appearance at last year’s Newport Folk Festival to tours with the Avett Brothers and Old 97s to scoring the Boston Music Award for Americana Artist of the Year. This year is off to a similarly hot start with rave reviews coming in from every quarter for DWM’s just-released sophomore album, Everything is Saved, the follow-up to their ecstatically received debut, 2009’s Carpenter Bird. With jubilant praise being lavished on them by NPR’s Bob Boilen, World Cafe’s David Dye and the Boston Globe, the David Wax Museum seems poised to kick up a metric ton of Mexamericana dust on the road in support of Everything is Saved. And this is a band of road dogs of the first magnitude. Although gigs have sometimes been sporadic, the David Wax Museum has had at least one show in every month since October 2007 (and the string might be longer still; that’s just where the list ends on their Web site). DWM’s recent show at Joe’s Pub in NYC sold out quickly, so don’t miss your chance. Besides, how many museums will you go to this year where dancing isn’t merely encouraged but mandatory?
David Wax Museum plays the Southgate House Tuesday, Feb. 22 with guest Nathan Holscher.