The South has its "chitlin circuit," but the ruts in the Midwest's rural roots route keep growing deeper, and John Dee Graham is the man who cut 'em, driving beat-up vans from Austin to Minneapolis and back every three months or so. One of those guys who's been the same age for 20 years, Graham offers hard-edged, heart-churning, grown-up wisdom every time he tunes up. His music still has the soundboard-blowing power surges he perfected back in the '80s as a founding member of the True Believers with Alejandro and Javier Escovedo. But Graham, a burly Gentle Ben type in his quieter moments, can hush the loudest club conversations just by covering Will Kimbrough's "Goodnight Moon" or crooning his own "Big Sweet Life." Notorious for discovering the best Texas backup musicians nobody's heard of yet, Graham has hitched up again and headed north. With a little luck, we'll catch him on the return trip, too.