Before concertgoers arrive at the David Wax Museum show at Flatbread on Wednesday night, July 3, there’s something we should clear up: Yes, that is a jawbone in the woman’s hand. It once belonged to a donkey, and in Spanish-speaking cultures, it is known as a quijada. The jawbone is dried out and the teeth loosened, so that when struck it produces a rhythmic clack, when scraped a powerful rattle.
It pairs exceptionally well with the percussive eight-stringed Mexican jarana jarocha played by her counterpart. And all those worldly horn sounds.
But those vocal harmonies? Those are purely American, the sounds of a mid-western boy and a southern girl that collided and fused somewhere over Appalachia. It’s an unlikely sound, but David Wax and Suz Slezak of David Wax Museum are owning it.
The sound comes partially from Mexican “son” music, which Mr. Wax spent a year studying under a Harvard University fellowship. But it also draws heavily from the well of Americana and folk music. When he recruited multi-talented musicians like Greg Glassman, the Latin and world sounds that unfolded never stopped unfolding.
Mr. Wax and Sue Slezak debuted their first album in 2008, and they have since accumulated a cultish following in the folk-rock community. In 2010, the Boston Music Awards named them Americana Artist of the Year. That year, fans voted them into a breakout performance at the Newport Folk Festival. In 2011, “Born with a Broken Heart” won BMA Song of the Year, and TIME magazine called them one of the top 10 live acts of SXSW.
Aside from getting a look at some unique instruments, the Flatbread crowd on Wednesday will appreciate the lively yet cool energy of Mr. Wax, and the sweet charm of Ms. Slezman, who is every bit as endearing as her voice.
Doors open at 8 pm with an “In the Round” performance by local artists Jason Nichols, Alysse Fischer, Alex Karalekas, and Lydia Fischer. Tickets are $15 in advance, and $18 day of show. For more information and for tickets, visit flatbreadcompany.com.