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Jason Boland & The Stragglers

High in the Rockies: A Live Album – 2010 (Thirty Tigers)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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CDs by Jason Boland & The Stragglers

Like many of his counterparts in the contemporary Red Dirt music scene, Jason Boland developed a strong regional following through a string of quality studio releases and an intense performance schedule that includes more than 200 shows each year. Although it is not a given that regional popularity translates to national success, Boland and his band, The Stragglers, are making their mark outside of their Oklahoma/Texas home base as evidenced by their new live album, a collection that captures performances from four consecutive nights in Colorado and Wyoming.

Recorded live without studio overdubs, this 19-song set showcases the band's symbiotic relationship with its audience - a partnership that allows both parties to feed off of each other's energy. Boland & The Stragglers play a rough and tumble modern blend of traditional and outlaw country - the kind of music that can ignite a theater, a club or even an old fashioned honky tonk. And that's exactly that happens throughout.

Boland and company cruise through a high-octane set focused primarily on songs from the band's two most recent studio albums, 2006's "The Bourbon Legend" and 2008's "Comal County Blue." Some of the collection's standout performances include a spirited take on Bob Childers' Outlaw Band, the Waylon-esque Hank, the introspective Bottle By My Bed and a superlative cover of Merle Haggard's Rainbow Stew.

The band's live rendition of the catchy The Party's Not Over, an instant honky tonk classic and one of Boland's catchier songs, somehow manages to improve on the original studio version and is another highlight.