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Twangbangers

Wednesday, Oct. 3; Off Broadway

We're not sure who came up with the idea, but we feel fairly confident that alcohol was involved. Oh, it doesn't take much drinking to find the fun in the concept of four Hightone Records artists' getting together and playing as if they were a band. Dallas Wayne, Bill Kirchen, Joe Goldmark and Redd Volkaert share a love for honky-tonk roots music and an eclectic approach that keeps any of them from getting stuck in purist hell. However, excessive alcohol consumption is the only possible explanation for their christening the conceptual tour Twangbangers. Surely all parties concerned must have been stewed to the gills when they agreed to that moniker, which ain't exactly an excuse but at least allows us to assume there were guilty consciences the morning after.Goofball name aside, this should be one heck of a concert. Kirchen -- the oldest of a rather experienced bunch and the only one with a bona fide cultural artifact of a hit single -- played guitar with Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen back in the early '70s, when his signature guitar licks revved up "Hot Rod Lincoln" and took it to the top of the pop charts. Since then, he's proved himself a master of many styles and an entertaining singer/songwriter to boot. Volkaert, who's played guitar in Merle Haggard's band for the past four years, should serve as an interesting counterpart to Kirchen's more aggressive, ecstatic style. Volkaert gets just as powerful a result by holding himself in check, and his deep, elastic voice is perfect for dispatching novelty tunes and weepers alike. Wayne is the real singer of the bunch and the most inventive songwriter as well. How can you argue with such titles as "Bouncin' Beer Cans Off the Jukebox" and "I'm Gonna Break Some Promises Tonight," except to point out that the titles aren't even the cleverest parts of the songs? Goldmark is a veteran San Francisco steel guitarist, and the co-owner of Amoeba Records, possibly the nation's greatest record store. He can play all the standard country licks, of course, but he's also covered the likes of Elvis Costello and Otis Redding, producing versions that compare favorably to the originals.

 
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