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Playing Around: Charlie Robison 

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Growing up in the country, the real country, where the closest house is miles away, there aren't many pastimes to entertain the rebellious teenager. Most kids pick a handful of activities and ride them out until they graduate, or at least get a vehicle. For example, mine were fishing, drinking, and fraternizing with the boys up at Hunter Ranch. Usually some kid would learn how to play an instrument, the ticket that made him a favorite around everybody's campfire kegger.

Growing up on the spread his family has ranched for eight generations in Bandera, Texas, Charlie Robison learned the guitar. While the country style of Bandera, a.k.a. "The Cowboy Capital of the World," is and always has been in Robison's blood, he managed to soak in the backbeats and sharp-edged guitars of rock. When it was all said and done, Robison's music ended up with a sound as wide open as Texas itself, propelled by a modern attitude yet braced by the resolute honesty of small town roots.

And that's just the music. Robison's real strength lies in his wry, observant lyrics. There's no sappy metaphors here, no two sparrows in a hurricane, just straight-up portrayals of human interaction. Robison's whiskey-tinged voice masterfully tells the stories of zealous preachers in Ford Festivas, newlyweds who got married for lack of anything better to do, high school grads who just wanna bum around. Robison's songs are a kind of lyrical Real World -- Texas, closer to the Jayhawks and Johnny Cougar than Brooks & Dunn.

Robison performs at Cowboy's Wednesday night. It's a weird night, sure, but tickets are only 8 to 12 bucks, and this way you'll be able to say you saw him when. The show is 18 and up. Call 596-1212 for details.

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