by John Tarpley
There are parts of Arkansas where a bad word about Pat Green is liable to get your butt stomped. We can't imagine the welcoming committee that would greet a naysayer in Green's native Texas. People love Pat Green. Fiercely. He may not be a Lone Star deity like Robert Earl Keen or Willie Nelson, but you've got to hand it to Green for excelling at channeling that Pure Country brew and mixing it down with a healthy splash of new-country arena pop. Maybe that's why he's spent the better part of the last decade toeing the line between national success and regional superstardom. But with legions of dedicated fans and, surely, a lifetime of ripped up bar tabs at Billy Bob's Texas, don't expect Green to change his formula any time soon.
Alright, we're chalking up a gimme for David Nail and calling this show a homecoming of sorts. After all, the country up-and-comer grew up in Kennett, Mo., just a quick jog away from the state line, and spent his college years at A-State, where, appropriately enough, he saw his first concert, a Garth Brooks show in 1992. Nail's debut album, "I'm About to Come Alive," and subsequent singles drive right down the middle of the pop-country road that Brooks paved. In Nail's world, everything's hazy with nostalgia and the stories are sung with a squeezed brow. Fortunately, his good looks make his Harlequin-ready music easier to swallow.
The round, 6-foot-4 giant is a country music icon, synonymous with country fiddle and known for his music's outspoken Dixie stance and hyper-patriotic twang. But did you know that Charlie Daniels spent the late-'60s providing bass for Bob Dylan (including on an unbelievable, widely-bootlegged session with George Harrison) and touring with Leonard Cohen? The man has props all over the board. But his legacy is firmly cemented in his sturdy, country pride anthems like "In America," "The South's Gonna Do It Again" and the Grammy-winning "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," which welded Appalachian folk tales, Southern rock and German opera into one of the best crossover singles in the history of the country charts. The always-outspoken Daniels has never shied away from making political observations and he's showing no sign of speaking more quietly in his old age. His new single, "Let 'Em Win or Bring 'Em Home," begins as an ode to young soldiers before launching off a bilious (and deserved) reproach of the Westboro Baptist Church. Expect to hear it greeted with massive applause this Saturday.