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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Brainy country: in the case of Lyle Lovett, the title fits

Sun Theatre, Anaheim, Cal., July 24, 2000

By Dan MacIntosh

ANAHEIM, CA - Lyle Lovett sounded more country than ever performing with his only slightly larger than normal band on this second of two nights. Eclectic is a fitting word for what Lyle Lovett does, and country is usually only one side of his multifaceted artistic character. But the conspicuous presence of star mandolin player Sam Bush really brought out the Texan in him this evening.

When he got to "That's Right, You're Not From Texas," he sang it on good authority because his group - which also included Mike Auldridge on dobro and Jon Randall on acoustic guitar - put an extra smidgen of Western swing into it.

Bush was visibly enjoying his chance to play along side Lovett, whether he was swaying his curly locks on one of his many fiery solos, or pouring his soul into a vocal part. Lovett, always the gentleman, took many occasions throughout the night to say how happy he was to have Bush along.

In the past, Lovett has toured with what he calls his Large Band, which also featured horns and backup singers. This served to jazz things up, making the sophisticated Lovett appear even more cosmopolitan.

But with his current stripped down, twanged-up lineup, Lovett was able to pull out a bluegrass standard like "More Pretty Girls Than One" to include along with favorites like "Church" and "If I Had A Boat."

As usual, some of Lovett's song introductions were even funnier than the songs themselves. He turned his preface of "Penguins" into an opportunity for everybody in the audience to have a laugh at the expense of anybody who obsessively collects figurines of particular creatures.

Brainy country music may appear on the surface to be an oxymoron, but in Lovett's case, this label fits. Especially when he's accompanied a few blue chip bluegrass sidemen.