Gripe all you must about the latest soundalike “Hat Act” emanating from the Nashville mashup — the phrase “all hat and no cattle” comes to mind — but don’t dare brand Lyle Lovett with that same scurrilous accusation. Even if the Tex-born singer, songwriter and actor is sometimes seen sporting the hat (hell, Hank wore a hat, and better than anyone before or since), it’s because he’s got the cattle, literally — along with the hair to fill that ten-gallon Hat Store chapeau. Really, the cat grew up on a ranch outside of Houston; has continued to make his home on the range, and even got himself put in the hospital by a rogue bull a few years back for good measure.
Mr. Lovett therefore gets to wear whatever hat he pleases, plus some fine tailored suits to boot. And when he returns on Tuesday to the Basie stage (where he’s been a frequent guest and dependable mover of tickets), he’ll shine by virtue of his talents as a songsmith, performer and interpreter of the country-western/pop canon; talents that have seduced movie stars and music lovers alike.
About those talents — they’ve served him well over the years, allowing him to prosecute a career that’s been smooth and satisfying and flavorful as an old cigarette ad, while other contemporaries have been gored on the pointed ends of their multiple CMA awards, as they strove to maintain the expectations of their fans. Lyle Lovett? He’s led, while the audience has followed (or not) through his experiments in jazz, gospel, Western swing or whatever else came to mind. He’s held the cards, all the while looking for a game with a few good fans.
Still gigging in support of his 2012 album Release Me, Lovett rolls back into town with his magnificent Large Band (they do grow ‘em big out there) and an encyclopedic catalog of American music that’s won him Grammy gold, and those even-more-precious committed fans. Tickets for Tuesday’s 8 pm show ($30 – $99.50) can be reserved right here.