Brad Paisley is the David Brooks of country. Like The New York Times op-ed columnist, Paisley celebrates an idyllic, suburban vision of American life that never really existed, but which is comforting to imagine as the country’s economy staggers. In “All I Wanted Was a Car,” from 2007’s 5th Gear, Paisley recalls working at a mall food court as a teen, and “Welcome to the Future,” from last year’s American Saturday Night, celebrates modern technology instead of an idealized rural past. Paisley’s brand of country is musically broadminded, blending chirpy keyboards with Telecasters and fiddles, and he’s lyrically perceptive without relying on corny puns and epigrams. What’s more, he’s a skilled guitarist who combines Chet Atkins-style picking with Joe Satriani-esque shred (check out his almost-entirely instrumental 2008 album Play: The Guitar Album), and his songs frequently showcase his talents. Gone are the days when Hank Williams said of a country guitarist, “He soloed himself right out of a job.” But Paisley’s defining characteristic is a minivan-driving, soccer-dad geniality. Old-school country had the sharp edge of a broken beer bottle, but Paisley makes music for Saturday afternoons mowing the lawn, not Friday nights fighting in bars. Brad Paisley, with Darius Rucker and Justin Moore, plays Blossom Music Center at 4 p.m. Tickets: $28.50-$59.75. —Phil Freeman
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