Too bad Pete Anderson can’t form words with his guitar.
As country star Dwight Yoakam’s guitarist and record producer, Anderson is much more than a mere sideman, and a solo turn seemed almost inevitable. As it turns out, he’s got all the goods except a great voice.
Both Anderson’s recent album “Working Class” and the live show he’s performing at clubs around town these days reflect the diversity of his production projects, which range from Michelle Shocked to the Meat Puppets.
At LunaPark on Thursday, Anderson, backed by three members of Yoakam’s band, played rocking blues, rootsy rock, atmospheric pop, contemporary folk and a sort of Monty Python tango with a distinctive combination of aggression and finesse.
Anderson’s prodigious guitar sound centered things, but the focus tended to fade because his voice is thin and inexpressive. His strategy is to adopt an exaggerated, bluesy drawl, but it’s not enough to bring some interesting songs to full realization. The instrumental side, though, was usually flavorful enough to compensate.
Second-billed Stephen Yerkey is a bespectacled string bean from San Francisco who has the look of a new-wave nerd and a repertoire with at least one instant classic. In a family newspaper it’ll be known as “X-Rated Blonde,” a tough, bittersweet street-life narrative that weds Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” to Dylan talking blues.
“Maker’s Mark” approaches that level in a haunted blues mode. Yerkey can be erratic, swinging into broad parody and mumbled introspection, but he’s definitely an eccentric to keep an eye on.
* Anderson’s next area show is Monday at System M, 213A Pine Ave., Long Beach, 9 p.m. $5. (310) 435-2525.