After enduring every embarrassment from the electric slide and Dollywood to Toby Keith's persistent Arab-baiting nonsense, country music feels likes it's in a dang ol' coma. But before the plug is pulled on the patient and farewells are said, it only seems appropriate to celebrate the art form's golden age -- something that Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams have mastered to perfection. Led by a tall and bony frontman who not only shares Hank Williams's initials but recalls the Drifting Cowboy's achy tenor, the local barroom-staple gadflies find themselves on the blister end of the shovel -- unearthing a bygone era once populated by Lefty Frizzell, George Jones, Ernest Tubb and the late countrypolitan, Don Gibson. Honoring such legendary figures like a human jukebox (and performing plenty of their own homespun gems, to boot), Wofford and company -- guitarist Greg Schochet, steel guitarist Bret Billings, bassist Ben O'Connor and drummer Damon Smith -- keep it as simple and pure as rainwater. Reconfigured from the Crosstie Walkers and Barn Cats, the Hi-Beams cut their teeth in VFW Legion Halls and pretty near every Front Range lodge named after an animal (eagle, elk, beaver and moose included). As the 2003 Westword Music Showcase nominees in the country/bluegrass/roots category, the boys have been on a roll following last year's exceptional self-titled debut and a pair of guest spots on NPR's Colorado Matters with Dan Drayer. Hear it for yourself when the rustic honky-tonkers invade mystic Commerce City -- namely Sharp's Roadhouse -- Friday, February 6. and Saturday, February 7. Saddle up, buckaroo.
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