Michael Kirkpatrick 

Key to My Cage

You can't go partway on a mustache. It can't be subtle or modern; and if you try to be ironic about it, you'll come across as a douche. Fort Collins, Colo. musician Michael Kirkpatrick, wisely, has made his most glorious of handlebar mustaches into his calling card and logo, and I'll be damned if he doesn't pull it off.

Similarly, his music doesn't seem to aspire for any 21st century definition of hipness. On pretty, guitar-pluckin' ballads and folky odes to good times, like "Wildwood," he puts his smooth bass voice to good use, channeling a classic country vibe. It's not real complicated or anything—"I'm just a boy with a guitar, picking dreams out of the stream in my backyard"—but it does sound sweet and honest. Sometimes, I sense the influence of Eddie Vedder lurking on tracks like "Monochrome Blue," which sounds ready-made to be arranged into a hard-rock song, what with the build to a soaring chorus.

Earnest music, like a big-ass mustache, can open itself up to derision. But Kirkpatrick comes across as too unabashedly joyful to care, and that's rather charming.

Michael Kirkpatrick plays the Top Hat Wed., Jan. 15, at 9 PM. Free.

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