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Monte Warden

Nominally a rockabilly artist, Monte Warden is most frequently compared to Buddy Holly, and both that influence and that of the Everly Brothers are unmistakable on his self-titled 1993 solo debut on Watermelon Records. The former frontman for the Austin-based Wagoneers, Warden follows an energetic pop-rock ‘n’ roll path, the one Holly himself was blazing […]

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Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys

Lovingly produced by ex-Blaster Dave Alvin, the HighTone debut of Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, Jumping From 6 to 6, clocks in at 16 tracks, which is either more bang for your buck or too much same old, depending on your taste for authentic reproduction. What separates this Orange County-based quintet from lesser rockabilly […]

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Mike Henderson

It’s hard to believe Mike Henderson’s debut Country Music Made Me Do It is a major-label Nashville release. The album was reportedly recorded in less than a week, mostly first takes cut live. It sounds like it, and I mean in a great way. There’s no A-team session-player sheen here, none of the studioitis that […]

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Real Country

BOB WOODRUFF WHISKEY RIVER, MAY 14 DAVID BALL WHISKEY RIVER, MAY 21 Last month’s television broadcast of the Academy of Country Music awards reeked of what it was–a Dick Clark production. It also shed light on which artists get in and which ones get left out of the commercial country-music sweepstakes. In an interview that […]

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Hillbilly Head-bangin’

BILLY JOE SHAVER SCHUBAS, MAY 13 If there were a God, or better yet someone with a brain and a pair of ears in country radio, Billy Joe Shaver’s current single, “Georgia on a Fast Train,” would be this summer’s “Chattahoochee.” Like Alan Jackson’s big-selling ode to rural teendom of last year, Shaver’s song would […]

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Tanya Tucker

Long before the riot grrrls, a few 1970s kids emerged as cultural symbols of tough girlhood: actresses Jodie Foster and Tatum O’Neal, LA trash rockers the Runaways, and country singer Tanya Tucker. A 13-year-old in a maxidress, Tucker first hit the charts with “Delta Dawn,” and her 1975 Greatest Hits album remains a must for […]

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Country and the Pop Narcotic

MAVERICKS Schubas, April 15 There’s plenty of hard country in the Mavericks’ second major-label release, What a Crying Shame. It’s chock-full of excellent honky-tonk, soulful shuffles, and swinging country rock. But their most notable achievement is the song “I Should Have Been True,” an Orbison-esque, almost operatic ballad of loss and regret. With one majestic […]

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Rock in a Hrad Place

Cactus Brothers Whiskey River, March 10 It’s a Thursday night at Whiskey River, and headliners the Cactus Brothers are causing some confusion. The scruffy country rockers take the stage and rip into a hard-rock, near-metal version of Merle Travis’s “Sixteen Tons.” Seats empty, and the dance floor fills with rows of line dancers. They’re in […]

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Cactus Brothers

Country rockers the Cactus Brothers marked their turf by kicking off their 1993 debut with a cover of Merle Travis’s “Sixteen Tons.” Tennessee Ernie Ford’s 1955 version of the song was an exercise in finger snapping and studied cool, but the Cactus Brothers rock down to the center and come up with an ominous dose […]

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John Anderson

Country’s so-called “new traditionalist” movement–which felt its strongest, most eclectic blast in 1986, when Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakam, and Steve Earle unleashed major-label debuts–had a couple of late-70s/early-80s precursors in John Anderson and George Strait. While Strait has worked consistently and brilliantly through the ensuing years, fate was less kind to Anderson, who continued to […]

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The Band

There’s an odd bit of historical revisionism on the liner notes to the Band’s new release, Jericho. When the Band called it quits on Thanksgiving 1976, Martin Scorsese filmed the farewell concert, making it as official as any- group’s bust-up has ever been. But Stephen Davis, who wrote the Jericho liner notes and also coauthored […]

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Billy Joe Shaver

Induction into the country outlaw club doesn’t always translate into name recognition and record sales. Case in point: Billy Joe Shaver. For more than 20 years this roadhouse rocker and consummate songwriter has resided on the obscure side of the Waylon and Willie equation. Best known for penning the bulk of Waylon Jennings’s 1973 classic […]

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Johnny Cash

Who the hell is Johnny Cash? He’s Nashville and Greenwich Village, Memphis and the holy land, a fundamentalist who in his earlier incarnation as country’s angry young man got himself banned from the Grand Ole Opry after busting out the footlights during an amphetamine-induced pique. Cash summed it up best himself in “Highwayman” when he […]

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Merle Haggard

With legends it’s not always easy separating fact from fiction, but Merle Haggard’s dossier reads true. No disrespect to Johnny Cash, but he only played San Quentin–Hag did time as part of the captive audience. “I turned 21 in prison, doin’ life without parole,” he sings in “Mama Tried.” In reality he only served 2 […]

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Honky-tonk man

Dwight Yoakam has made a career of pissing people off, from his overt dissing of the Nashville establishment to his often brittle and unsympathetic interviews. Last Friday at the Aragon he tried it with his own fans, but they couldn’t stay mad at him long. The crowd was largely country, but there were also signs […]