Lyle Lovett - Mesa Arts Center - Thursday, August 15It's hard to figure out exactly what to make of modern country's flirtations with genres outside Nashville's rustic confines. Taylor Swift's Red incorporated an (ever-so-slight) dubstep wobble into her pop-country frame. The Zac Brown Band is covering Metallica live. Former Hootie and the Blowfish front-man Darius Rucker gets as much mileage out of his old alt-bro hits as he does his new country ones, and rising stars like Brantley Gilbert show off as much nu-metal as pedal steel.
"Accidental Racist," Brad Paisley's blundering buddy-cop outing with LL Cool J, is an unavoidable trainwreck, and will undoubtedly go down as one of 2013's worst hick-hop singles in a year when that designation isn't a rarity or outlier at all.
In light of such general weirdness, it's tempting to suggest building a "dang fence" to keep the "real country" safe from its mutant offspring. But that would put someone like Lyle Lovett out of a job, and considering the care and craft he's exhibited for more than three decades, that would be a shame. --Jason P. Woodbury