Smart Bets: Sara Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion

According to the bio of folk-rock on- and off-stage duo Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, they’ve finally hit their stride with new album, Wassaic Way. The hook-heavy, jangly collection seems to tap the couple's small-town roots and big-city inspirations. It also has a cool connection to Guthrie's family: The record was recorded in Chicago by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. In '98 and 2000, Wilco (with Billy Bragg) released the Mermaid Avenue albums, a collection of unfinished songs by troubadour Woody Guthrie. Sarah Lee is Woody's granddaughter. While she doesn't let that lineage define her sound with Irion, she says of the Wilco connection, "It made us feel really good about being a part of this great big family of music and legacy and, yes, the American spirit." Guthrie and Irion make a second Asheville stop this fall at Jack of the Wood on Friday, Oct. 25. The Battlefield also performs. 9 p.m., $10. jackofthewood.com.

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