Photo: John Doe & Exene and Phoebe Bridgers at the Natural History Museum

John Doe & Exene at the Natural History Museum (Photo by Samuel C. Ware)
John Doe & Exene at the Natural History Museum (Photo by Samuel C. Ware)

“You look like a good crowd,” John Doe told the mammals in North American Mammal Hall on Friday night at the Natural History Museum, adding wryly: “I hope nobody goes to jail tonight. I know this folk music can make people go crazy.”

Joined by Exene Cervenka, his longtime partner in the legendary punk band X, the duo put some twang into the 2018 opener of the museum’s First Fridays series. Owing to the fact that the stage was set up in front of the Plains Bison exhibit, which shows off a number of bison grazing in a large, open field in Wyoming, their folk tunes suggested a night on the American Frontier in the late 19th century. Among their selections were a cover of “If I Were a Carpenter” and the Bobby Braddock tune “Something To Brag About” (recorded by the duos Charlie Louvin & Melba Montgomery and George Jones & Tammy Wynette), which Doe introduced as a song about their “strange alter-egos.”

Phoebe Bridgers, joined by Harrison Whitford and Ethan Gruska, opened the night with songs from her debut “Stranger in the Alps,” saying she was “honored to be here because, like … Sheryl Crow shot a music video here.” She also recalled seeing X at Pershing Square for her 18th birthday. Bridgers said she met Cervenka after the show, with Cervenka asking how old she was. Bridgers responded that she was 18, and all the elder songstress said was “Be careful,” before walking off.

The next First Fridays is March 2. Performers have not yet been announced.

Photos by Samuel C. Ware