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John Hiatt and David Lindley 

Wednesday, July 14; the Pageant

Cardinals fans appreciate the value of Reggie Sanders, this year's right fielder. He's not a superstar, but for years now he's been a solid contributor to a variety of baseball lineups. Sanders will always put up good numbers and occasionally come up big with a key home run to win a game.

You could call John Hiatt the Reggie Sanders of popular music. He's been doing what he does for nearly 30 years now, and he has 17 albums to his credit. Most of them are very good, none of them are unlistenable, and a couple of them have been artistic masterpieces.

Hiatt's key home runs came in 1987 and 1988, when he released Bring the Family and Slow Turning, two LPs addressing the vagaries of growing older without giving up one's youth entirely and the difficulties of maintaining the spark of love while life keeps bringing distractions. Of course, he's written about such subjects before and since, so it must be the combination of extra-special insight that year -- "I'm yelling at the kids in the back seat/'Cause they're bangin' like Charlie Watts" is a brilliant look at the passing of generational torches, among other things -- with the most consistently engaging musical hooks of his career.

You'll know what to expect from John Hiatt, which is not necessarily true of opening act David Lindley. Performing since the late '60s, Lindley has given us psychedelic experimentation in the band Kaleidoscope, impeccable singer/songwriter guitar support while working with Jackson Browne, the best damn rock 'n' rhythm band of the '80s in El Rayo-X, and all sorts of world-music explorations. With a track record like that, the only thing we can know for sure is that the show's likely to be great.

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