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Bruce Robison, Kelly Willis dazzle at Day 2 of Twangfest 15 in St. Louis

By Barry Gilbert

The wait was more than worth it. Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis dazzled in a rare performance together Thursday night, their songs simultaneously reaching out to the head, the heart and the gut.

Headlining the second night of Twangfest 15 at Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room, Mr. and Mrs. Robison, backed by Will Dupuy on bass and Geoff Queen on pedal steel and guitar, offered 20 tunes over an hour and 20 minutes.

The set list mined the catalogues of each to good effect. But what made the night extra special was a handful of new duets that the couple unveiled, hinting of a career merger after about two decades of individual success.

It’s simply criminal that their mixture of country, pop and folk isn’t played on radio here, with the notable exception of Twangfest sponsor KDHX (88.1 FM). From the opening notes of “Sweet Sundown” to the closing masterpiece “Angry All the Time,” Robison and Willis displayed the honesty and simplicity that makes great songwriting.

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