Sioux City Kid bares his dusty soul 

click to enlarge Sioux City Kid — aka Jared Griffin of San Francisco — plays a CD release show Friday at the Great American Music Hall.
  • Sioux City Kid — aka Jared Griffin of San Francisco — plays a CD release show Friday at the Great American Music Hall.

Sioux City Kid, the gravel-voiced troubadour with a stage name that belies his Richmond district upbringing, won't lie about his sound: It is not indicative of San Francisco.

"It's from another time and place," says the Kid, also known as Jared Griffin, of his music. "There's an underlying theme — one week it might be the Rolling Stones, Jack White the next. But everything in between is Hank Williams, Robert Johnson and Skip James. That stuff is really romantic to me."

The Kid — who plays the Great American Music Hall on Friday — is a tortured soul, befitting the dusty, bygone era he celebrates. It translates well when he barks out Delta blues vocals backed by roots-rock, rag and rockabilly compositions on his new record, "Minutes, Miles, Troubles & Trials," but it has resulted in self-imposed hardship and anxiety over his career.

By his estimate, picking up a guitar at the age of 18 was far too late in the game. The urge to play engulfed him during his senior year; class was suddenly much less compelling than hanging out at Ocean Beach and bawling at the beauty of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush."

Playing became a secret obsession. "I never told anyone," Griffin says. "I was sleeping in parks, living with my guitar, basically."

At 21, he arrived at another crossroads. "I was working at Sloat Nursery. Couldn't ask for a better job, but it was killing my soul," Griffin explains. "So in the winter of 2005 I took some time off, stayed in a cabin in Guerneville, ate some acid and listened to 'Freewheelin' Bob Dylan,' 'Revolver,' all these records by guys who were famous by 21, and I had to ask myself, 'What are you doing?' So I quit everything else."

That, for Griffin, was an easy choice. "I believe in the songs so much that I can't walk away from it. Sioux City Kid is so strong in my mind that doing anything else doesn't make sense to me."

A Kickstarter campaign funded four days at Coast Recorders in South of Market and the physical copy of "Minutes, Miles, Troubles & Trials," which arrives this week.

"When you open up the record, on the left-hand side all it will say is, 'This album should be played loud,'" Griffin says. It's a reference to "The Last Waltz," a documentary of The Band's final show at the Winterland in San Francisco. "Only 2 percent might get that, or just think it's cheesy, but 'The Last Waltz' is one of the greatest movie docs of all time. What that movie does for me is what I want this record to do for people."


Sioux City Kid

Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell St., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $15 to $39.95

Contact: (415) 885-0750,

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Rob Goszkowski

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