Commander Cody with Heartsfield

Saturday, April 30; Blueberry Hill's Duck Room (6504 Delmar Boulevard, University City)

Long before alt-country was cool, George "Commander Cody" Frayne and his Lost Planet Airmen blended hard-drinking honky-tonk, truck drivers' lachrymose laments, rockabilly, western swing and boogie-woogie piano into an act much more popular in the hippie havens of Ann Arbor and Berkeley than in tradition-bound Nashville.

Marinated in substantial quantities of booze and filtered through a haze of pot smoke, the Airmen's music was too country for rock radio and just too darn weird for the country-music establishment of the early '70s, which didn't quite know what to make of songs such as "Down to Seeds and Stems Again" and "Mama Hated Diesels." Bringing together the ropers and the dopers back then was no easier than reconciling today's attitudinal gap between red and blue states.

They did enjoy big sales with their first release, which featured a remake of the fast-talking country novelty "Hot Rod Lincoln" and had some other modestly successful recordings, but by 1977 the original crew of Airmen had gone their separate ways. Since then Frayne has continued to record sporadically and tour relentlessly, mixing a healthy dose of familiar favorites from those early '70s albums with later solo material and some choice covers. Expect a rowdy yet good-humored evening, highlighted by the Commander's considerable mastery of the eight-to-the-bar style, plus the addition for this show of steel guitarist Don E. Curtis of Scotty's Music as special guest.

Doors at 8 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15; call Metrotix at 314-534-1111 for more information.

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