What's up with country

There's a whole host of kickass, hot-rod country Telecaster pickers around these parts that grew up hanging around Danny Gatton's garage and trying to steal licks from the ever-wary Roy Buchanan. Now these guys are all middle-aged, and they don't play hipster bars, but it's worth your while to seek 'em out. We mentioned the great Chick Hall Jr. last time, so we'd be remiss not to mention another great picker, Dave Chappel (formerly of too many bands to name, including Arty Hill's). Dave'll be bringing his insanely deft sense of harmonics to the honky-tonk sounds of the Patty Reese Band at the Rally for the Race (to end child abuse) in Glen Burnie on Aug. 3.

That same night, you could also go see the hell-raisin', foot-stompin' hill-tonk of Bobby E. Lee and the Sympathizers (with whom, we must disclose, S&T once had a longstanding feud) at Joe Squared Station North.

Song-writing legend James McMurtry, who is now doing a set of Occupy Wall Street-themed songs, will be at the Birchmere on Aug. 4 and Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis on Aug. 5. Given the wordsmithery this man is known for, he'll take the usual platitudes scrawled on protest signs and turn them into epics as bold as his father's Lonesome Dove.

We mentioned an album release by Her Fantastic Cats last time, and it's now confirmed that there will be a show to release the CD i at Normal's on Aug. 9.

On Aug. 18, Justin Townes Earle-named after Townes Van Zandt by his father Steve-will be a highlight at the Hot August Blues and Roots Festival in Cockeysville. For our money, this guy's even better than his dad, singing with the smooth tenor of Ray Price and writing killer songs (while kicking ass on a mando-filled Replacements cover too).

Couple days later, we got the spit-fire ass-stomping salty dogs of Hoots and Hellmouth bringing their latest release Salt to the Ottobar on Aug. 21.

Finally, in Hershey, Pa., on Sept. 22, Willie Nelson will host his annual Farm Aid. Willie was way ahead of his time on this, pointing out that the plight of farmers is the plight of us all. And since its in Hershey, there should be plenty of munchies, should you get the chance to indulge with Mr. Nelson.

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