Charlie Robison picked up a bit of publicity a couple of years ago when he married the Dixie Chicks' Emily Erwin. Musically Robison and his wife's band are quite different, but they share at least one thing: The Dixie Chicks are one of the best things going in mainstream country and Robison is one of the finest artists on the fringes of the scene. Robison isn't an alt-country latecomer, just a solid Texas-based singer-songwriter whose rootsy sound contains both rock and honky-tonk influences.
Robison will hit the Hi-Tone Café on Tuesday, May 22nd, in support of his fine new album, Step Right Up, a record that includes an NRBQ cover ("I Want You Bad"), a duet with Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Mains ("The Wedding Song"), a Springsteenian narrative ("Desperate Times"), an Irish jig ("John O'Reilly"), and a quirky Tex-Mex stomp ("One In a Million"), and it still manages to sound of one piece.
-- Chris Herrington
Primo picker Del McCourey brings his unique brand of blue(ish)grass to the Hi-Tone Café on Thursday, May 17th, so rest your liver and get ready to stumble home from that little cosmopolitan roadhouse with one eye closed. Folks who only know McCourey from his work with Steve Earle are in for a real treat. Nothing against Earle, he's a mighty fine songwriter to be sure, but this kind of music goes down much smoother once all traces of self-righteousness have been removed.
And now for the rock. While I can't exactly heap praise on The Internationals for either sterling musicianship or stunning originality, they get six thumbs up for attitude. And when you are in the right mood, that's all that matters. The band's meathead posturing -- which strikes a balance between the sublime David Johansen and the ridiculous Vinnie Barbarino -- is hilariously idiotic, and their over-the-top stage banter is ludicrously macho and egomaniacal. An I'Nats show is like a cock-strutting gutter-punk answer to This is Spinal Tap, but when they shut up and play they can really deliver the brain-damaged goods. And in case there is any confusion, I mean all of this as a compliment. Catch them at the Last Place on Earth on Saturday, May 19th, with two unfortunately named bands -- Swollen Sky and Hellfish. -- Chris Davis