Jack Ingram got his start playing hard-rocking honky-tonk at Texas frat houses, clumsily trying to imitate hardscrabble storytellers like Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and Steve Earle for good ol’ boys too splooey to notice if he failed. He doesn’t play those parties anymore, but he’s still striving to sound like his heroes. Earle himself produced Ingram’s 1997 album, Livin’ or Dyin’ (Rising Tide), and for the recent Hey You (Lucky Dog) the task was handled by former Earle sidekick Richard Bennett. It’s amiable stuff, peppered with modest hooks, soaked in twang, and heated up by Ingram’s longtime group, the Beat Up Ford Band. But aside from the album’s bracing opener, “Biloxi”–a scathing indictment of an irresponsible father who sacrifices his family for cheap thrills–the songs aren’t about much more than hard luck with the ladies. In “Work This Out” he tries to fix things up with prosaic promises like “Tell me there’s one thing I can’t do again / I won’t do that again,” and the string of arrogant put-downs in “Barbie Doll” flirts with misogyny. Ingram can kick shit like his pal Earle–with none of the self-righteous chest beating–but he’s still bound to appeal most to folks who don’t care if they remember anything the morning after. Kelly Willis (see Spot Check) headlines. Friday, 9:30 PM, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 708-788-2118.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Senor McGuire.