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Best Country Band 

Dealer's Choice

As a band, Dealer's Choice exists but once a month; as individuals, they've made their marks in country music (and we're not just talking locally). For Dealer's Choice, history keeps unfolding every second Saturday, at a smoky, bric-a-bracked dive in St. Peters called Horstmeier's. No frontman, per se, but drummer and singer Edward Foster (everyone calls him Abdul or Dooley) is the jocular, bronze-throated polestar, even after two cancer operations. He sings Ray Price and Johnny Bush the way thunder rolls. Bassist Alan Culley will toss off corny jokes and then croon smooth as a hundred-dollar imported puro as guitarist Joe Carpenter (who has worked with country legend Jim Ed Brown) and pedal-steeler Don Curtis (who has worked with everyone, including George Jones) trade wicked, mind-boggling licks. When the band launches into country epics like "You Gave Me a Mountain" or "For the Good Times," untethering all the emotions decades of honky-tonk work brings, that's not Dooley's thumping kick you hear sealing the final changes. It's all the jaws in the joint hitting the floor.

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