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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Trick Pony spurs on the party hearty

House of Blues, Anaheim, Cal., Texas, Dec. 5, 2002

By Dan MacIntosh

ANAHEIM, CA - If Trick Pony is on any kind of a mission at all, it's most certainly of the secular kind since this group is all about spurring on its concert audiences to party hearty. Tonight the group pulled liberally from each of its two releases for a set of music that was heavy on both twang-y rhythms, and country blues.

Watching this diverse-looking trio perform on stage sometimes brought to mind one completely different trick: Cheap Trick. This is because each TP group member has a distinctly unique look and personality. Cheap Trick, as you may recall, had its two hot guys, and two nerdy members.

But Trick Pony has its Kid Rock look-alike in Ira Dean, its straight up cowboy with Keith Burns and its hot babe - which is Heidi Newfield, of course. (On second thought, maybe Village People is a better analogy).

Everybody in Trick Pony sings (and sometimes dances), just like VP, but Newfield is the true star attraction of this act. She can switch easily from a rocker like "Pour Me," to a quieting ballad like "Love Be Still." Not only that, but she also blows a mean harmonica.

Ira Dean is just like a one man party machine, and he's somebody who visibly enjoys plucking on his bass and winking at the girls in the audience more than just about anything else. This is why his acoustic guitar assisted singing of "The Devil And Me" mid-show was such a pleasant revelation. It's a song that lays bare Dean's battle with the bottle, and does so with gut-wrenching honesty.

A song like "The Devil And Me," however, is much better suited for the morning after a party, when repentance and regret is in order. For this reason, Trick Pony more often than not chose to bring on the noise exemplified by "Just What I Do" and a cover of Willie Nelson's "Whiskey River" for this party-ready crowd.