Americana artist Martha Redbone plays the Kate on Friday

Most folks probably agree that there's a difference between poetry and song lyrics despite obvious similarities. Song lyrics by definition rely on vocal melody and rhyme schemes. Modern poets, on the other hand, typically eschew rhymes (and when they do rhyme, it's usually not in the obvious "back on the road/it's such a heavy load" you might find in a Molly Hatchett tune).

Occasionally, a tunesmith will aspire to put their own music to existing poetry — as when Mike Scott of the Waterboys did some amazing stuff on the band's "Appointment with Mr Yeats" album. Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson and James Joyce are other poets whose works have been set to music.

One incredibly interesting work in this context is a CD called "The Garden of Love — Songs of William Blake" by Americana artist Martha Redbone. A Kentucky native, Redbone's heritage is a combination of African American, Cherokee and Choctaw bloodlines, and she combined and explored those indigenous influences on earthy earlier recordings such as "Skintalk" and "Future Street."

With "The Garden of Love," though, Redbone infused Blake's mysticism and imagery — not to mention European folk traditions — into her juxtapositions of country, gospel, chants, folk and roots. The Blake flourishes are inspired, and it's all pretty fantastic. Redbone performs Friday at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center. Expect work from "Garden of Love" and much, much more.

In that spirit, it's worth noting that Redbone will be back in the area on April 6 when she brings a new conceptual show, "Bone Hill: The Concert," a musical examination of the generations of Redbone women, to Evans Hall on the Connecticut College campus.

Martha Redbone, 8 p.m. Friday, Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, 300 Main St., Old Saybrook; $35; 1-877-503-1286,

Martha Redbone, 7:30 p.m. April 6, Evans Hall, Connecticut College, 270 Mohegan Ave., New London; $22, $20 seniors; $12 students; (860) 439-2787,


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