Music » Livewire

Robbie Fulks

With Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. Wednesday, September 15, at the Beachland Ballroom.

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If Robbie Fulks were a baseball player, he'd be a five-tool man. He can pen funny songs and serious ones with equal skill. He's a nimble enough guitarist to have played in the Grammy-nominated bluegrass band Special Consensus, and his expressive, Carolina-bred voice has impressive range.

Oh, he's one helluva performer too. Fulks turns his concerts into wonderfully unpredictable affairs as he pinballs from the hilarious ("I Told Her Lies") to the heartbroken ("Barely Human"); from rootsy pop songs ("Mad at a Girl") to bluegrass murder ballads ("In Bristol Town One Bright Day"). As if his own tunes don't offer enough diversity, the Chicago-based musician keeps folks on their toes with his eclectic cover songs. On one hand, Fulks is a keeper of the traditional country music flame. His 2002 disc 13 Hillbilly Giants spotlighted little-known country gems like Bill Anderson's bittersweet "Cocktails," and he produced the recently released Johnny Paycheck tribute album Touch My Heart. On the other hand, he has a soft spot for Top 40 pop tunes: ABBA's "Dancing Queen" has been a longtime concert staple, and Cher's "Believe" seems to be a current fave. A perennial all-star on the alt-country circuit, Fulks has big-league talent that's a delight to experience.

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