Recently, my wife and I spent a night at a local resort called the Canyon Of The Eagles, northwest of Burnet, Texas. As it was a week before Halloween, things were decked out in orange and black, and faux spider webs abounded. On out first evening there, after we returned from eating in Burnet, at about 7:45 pm, we saw that there was to be a small concert in front of the resort’s restaurant area.
About 25 people were gathered. The stars were out on a clear night, and a musical trio prepared to play. At the time, we did not even know the name of the group. It was obvious, however, that the music was to be country. Having grown up on Motown, then hard rock and heavy metal, I’ve never been partial to country nor classical- and certainly disco always turned me off. But, as I was aggravated by a number of life’s petty annoyances, and all that awaited us as an alternative was early sleep, a Bible meeting held in one lodge, and a gathering of senior citizens in another lodge, we decided to listen. The group was scheduled to play till 10 pm, but I figured we’d put in a polite 15 or 20 minutes, then retire.
But, after the first two songs we heard, Cherry Springs Swing and The Man Who Holds The Bow, it was clear that the lead singer — a fortyish Hispanic fellow in a black hat, was several cuts above the typical bar band singer-songwriters one meets. And, believe me, I’ve seen dozens of bar singers. Even the best of them can usually claim to be only as good as the best pop singers out there, meaning it is mere luck that separates the known from the unknown.
After a few more original songs, including a terrific love song, Home Made Of Stone, the trio played several covers. They were all good, but the lead singer’s songs were significantly better. First, in the way that I can explicate, the lyrics were far superior and generally void of clichés (the expected sentiment or wording carefully inverted or subverted) in the refrains and places that are the ‘hooks.’ Secondly, the songs displayed an amazing range of musical diversity. Most pop musicians stick to power ballads, harmonies, dance beats, etc. But, this group’s songs ranged from Mississippi blues to bluegrass to early rock 'n' roll to country to salsa to gospel to big band swing to rock ballads to bluesy rock to southern rock, plus a few other categories not easily identifiable- such as the silly country ditty, The Armadillo Song.