Texas Platters

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Texas Platters
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Butch Hancock

Cactus Cafe, July 13

The first of two nights celebrating Butch Hancock's 61st birthday was a mash-up of Kerrville campfire and an all-too-brief appearance by the Flatlanders. Introduced as "the West Texas Wonder," Hancock is still best known for his wry, intricate wordplay and a deep love of the songs of Townes Van Zandt. Over the course of two sets, he put both on ample display. Referring to a beat-up notebook, the grizzled troubadour alternated between tunes of political intent, love songs, and covers from Woody Guthrie and Bruce Springsteen, telling jokes and making it all seem effortless. The atmosphere created was as friendly as possible, and all that was missing was a fireplace. An early surprise was the appearance of "Split & Slide #1," a rambling hallucination of a tune, a cartoon tongue twister that the birthday boy explained by commenting, "It's not as easy as you think it is." Near the end of the first set, Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore joined in, and the mood lightened considerably with a rendition of "Julia" and a couple of TVZ tunes – a tender version of "Tecumseh Valley" and revved up "White Freight Liner Blues." Gilmore's son, Colin, was even called onstage for a song of his own before the break and birthday cake. The second set saw familiar material like the Dylan-esque "To Each His Own" and a surprising and powerful rendition of Springsteen's "Racing in the Streets," offering further proof that "the West Texas Wonder" is both an extraordinary songwriter and collector of other's excellence.

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Butch Hancock

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