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Who? Holden Caufield? No, Halden Wofford ... and the Hi-Beams. They're a different story altogether.

The Hi-Beams play real country music, and they're pretty darn good at it. Now that the flushing sound finally has dissipated from the Red River Saloon, it should be safe to get excited again about country music downtown -- real country, remember.

If you missed Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams when they stomped through here this past March, then it's excusable to be out of the loop on how fun their shows are. If you choose to miss them again, then just affix those blinders to your head permanently; we can no longer help you.

The Hi-Beams' fort falls under "vintage-minded" roots country, broadcast through a classic yodeling tenor in highly danceable form. As opposed to that of many modern commercial country acts, the Hi-Beams' honky-tonk swing sound seeks to capture the essence of the old-time country music that started it all. The band likes to think of its music as an original reflection of the past, rather than a copycat regurgitation of the golden era.

Wofford won the 2003 "Best Traditional Country Vocalist" prize from Denver's Westword, the third consecutive honor for the band in the Front Range bluegrass and country arena. Accompanying Wofford on stage is guitarist Greg Schochet, upright steel guitarist Bret Billings, upright bassist Ben O'Connor and drummer Damon Smith. The western quintet formed in Denver in 1999 and has been romping aggressively across the Rockies and beyond ever since, spreading the true sound.

Halden Wofford doesn't dilly-dally when zeroing in on the Hi-Beams' influences and style. Wofford cites classic heroes like Hank Williams Sr. and Jim Lauderdale as having contributed to the Hi-Beams' sound, as well as some contemporary greats like Gillian Welch.

-- Matthew Schniper

capsule

Halden Wofford & the Hi-Beams

Oscar's, 333 S. Tejon St.

Saturday, June 25, 9 p.m.

Free; for more, call 471-8070.

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