Clint Black @ Celebrity Theatre

Alt-country hero Dale Watson has a tune called "Nashville Rash," in which he bemoans the pop crossover changes in Music City and sings "I'm too country now for country, just like Johnny Cash / Help me, Merle, I'm breakin' out in a Nashville rash." The condition has begun to afflict artists associated with the "New Traditionalist" movement of the late '80s who, ironically, rescued country music from the leisure-suited "urban cowboy" pop-country of the day, reintroducing honky-tonk laments drenched in high-lonesome pedal steel and twin fiddles to country radio. Twenty-two years after his remarkable self-titled debut album helped change the face of popular country music, Clint Black has come down with the Nashville Rash — he's too country for today's pop-country sheen. Black had his last Top 10 country hit in 2000 and his last album, the terrific Drinking Songs & Other Logic, barely buzzed the Top 40 country album charts in 2006. Does this mean Black has lost his touch as an artist? Au contraire. It just means that he's never compromised his hard-country roots or sold out to the new pop/country wave. And while the country artists Black helped pave the way for two decades ago play their brand of arena country in stadiums these days, Black plays now smaller spots like the Celebrity Theatre, which is better suited for his down-home Texas honky-tonkin' anyway.


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