The history of Chicago's Can.Ky.Ree mirrors the life experience of its creator, a singer and guitarist by the name of Tom Musick. In the 1970s and early '80s, Musick had dwelled in a fertile Los Angeles delta where the paisley underground met street-level punk buggery. But things had dried up considerably by 1987, leading Musick to make tracks for Paris, France. The bash and pop of his punk rock past didn't fly in the City of Light, but a clutch of half-remembered Hank Sr. tunes sure seemed to buy a meal. Soon, the erstwhile West Coast punk was making his way as a country and cowboy music troubadour, serenading biker bars with songs that blended American roots and Parisian musette. Late at night, he'd retire to the dilapidated cargo barge that was his home, and let the scratchy wail of the Arabic radio station fill his dreams. Ten years later, the wind had blown Musick to Chicago, where he and his aged acoustic guitar found kindred spirits in steel guitarist Steve Dorocke and bassist Ryan Hembrey. The three began jamming on the piquant grooves of their collective musical experience, and a beta version of Can.Ky.Ree was born. By 2001, Hembrey had switched to piano, Andy Rader (Pinetop Seven) had joined on upright bass, and accordionist Rob Cruz was filling in with a colorful flourish. They began a regular residency at a bruised and friendly Chicago watering hole, and the quintet's evocative sound drew notice for its flavors of Americana, wistful balladry, and spicy Parisian overtones. There was even an echo of Musick's old Arabic radio listening sessions in his wandering vocal and the wailing accordion of Cruz. East of Earshot, Can.Ky.Ree's self-released debut, appeared in late 2002. Though both Cruz and Dorocke departed after recording the album, Musick, Hembrey, and Rader continued on as a trio, augmented by clarinetist John Doyle and percussionist Gerald Dowd. ~ Johnny Loftus, Rovi