Belgium’s Ignatz channels heartland America, plays Pageant: Soloveev Gallery on 4/22

Ignatz | photo by Mark Rietveld

 In George Herriman’s classic Krazy Kat comics, Ignatz is the main antagonist, a belligerent mouse whose habit of hurling bricks at the title character’s head only endears him to her. His anarchic aggression seems an ill fit for Belgian guitarist and vocalist Bram Devens, who adopted the name Ignatz for his spare, Appalachian folk-inspired performances.

“I used to draw comics myself and collect them,” writes Devens, who earned a Master’s degree in comics from Sint-Lukas Brussels University College of Art and Design in Brussels, via email. “Krazy Kat is one of my favorite comics. I love the drawings and the language. For my first recordings as Ignatz I used to speed up the tape, so my voice would sound higher pitched and more cartoony. With this in mind, and the references to old pre-war music, it seemed a good match to call myself Ignatz.”

He then adds, “Ignatz the mouse is also a bit of a dick in the comics, and I can relate to that.”

Whatever the reasons behind the name, Ignatz offers a unique approach that emulates the sound of early 20th-century American folk and blues forms as played on a warped 78-rpm record, electronically manipulated and altered. He’ll play a solo show at the Pageant: Soloveev Gallery on Tuesday night, focusing on new songs and material from his latest CD, Can I Go Home Now? (Fonal). The program, presented by Alabaster Museum, also features Philadelphia guitarists Mark Feehan and Mitch Esparza.

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