Listen Up: Wednesday, October 6, 2004
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Roger Creager

Live Across Texas Dualtone Records

By Jimmy Fowler

The archetype of the underdog isn’t just a powerful theme in country music, it’s also a mighty effective marketing tool. The 33-year-old South Texas native named Roger Creager is a hard-working troubadour who began to catch a break or two in the latter part of a decade of obscurity and relentless touring. But Creager has been smart in the way he uses his hard-luck saga: The sly mix of humility and bravado that he sells so effortlessly onstage creates its own word-of-mouth publicity. He has earned a kind of superstardom in the tri-state area’s music halls. His performances are raucous and toe-tappable, and they often turn into singalongs with fans who are repeat customers.

Live Across Texas, his second album on the Dualtone label, is a live “could’ve-been greatest hits” collection captured in the historic Texas swing joints where Creager’s career took root, including Hurricane Harry’s and The Firehouse Saloon. The passion and energy on display here were not evident in the sluggish, pedestrian originals from his first three studio efforts. Most live albums are notoriously overdubbed, but here the audience enthusiasm pushes the band to boot-scuff the stage to pieces. The exchange sounds genuine. “Things Look Good Around Here” is Creager’s signature opening tune, a confession of pre-show anxiety soothed by You Fine People Gathered Here Tonight. He tears into one fiddle-playin’, piano-plinkin’ raveup after another; this set mostly forsakes bar-room brooding to celebrate the redneck alternative lifestyle. His prematurely weary voice lands on the storytelling rather than the crooning side of country, although his accent is relatively light and free of twangy affectations. “Long Way to Mexico” recounts his youthful trips across the border to carouse, “The Everclear Song” talks about his teenage preference for the clear stuff, “Should’ve Learned By Now” lists his failed love affairs, and so on. He does pull off a poignant version of Jimmy Buffett’s “A Pirate Looks At Forty” that sounds like it could be a huge national hit. Live Across Texas proves two things: Roger Creager’s concert reputation is justified, but he still needs to find the creative mix that clicks in the studio.


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