The Linemen emerge as the best straight-shooting country band in town.

(And please don't call 'em "honky-tonk.")

"We've never really talked about this. Is it still that hard for you that you don't talk about it to your girlfriend?" Baldus asks.

"Yes, I have one broken heart in my past," Butterfield answers. "And she did inspire the first few songs I wrote. Is that still what inspires me now? Well, I don't know, maybe."

Whatever their inspiration, the Linemen have found a way to make the classic forms and style of country music resonate emotionally, even seriously, which is enough to distinguish them from an overcrowded roots scene. "I get a little tired of the tongue-in-cheek approach," Butterfield says. "Honestly, I think a lot of it is that a lot of people in St. Louis haven't really heard country sung straight. They always hear the Saturday Night Live version."

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