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Eric Taylor 

8 p.m. Thursday, August 17. The Focal Point (2720 Sutton Boulevard, Maplewood)

When he died in 1997, Townes Van Zandt left behind an ever-expanding cult. Many believe he had no songwriting equal; even more wish they'd seen him before he'd gone. But if Van Zandt has a living equal, it's fellow Texan (and friend) Eric Taylor. Best known as Nanci Griffith's ex-husband and ex-producer, Taylor is a masterful guitarist with a scorched baritone and the ability to pen words as searing as those of James Dickey or John Berryman at the end of their unholy ropes. "Put the salt on the whiskey, the sugar on the dice," he sings on his newest album, The Great Divide. "Anything you tell 'em, look 'em straight in the face." That's exactly the way his every image meets you: a little menacing and fateful, more than a little wise.

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