By Barry Gilbert
St. Louis Post-Dispatch


May 12, 2005

9 p.m. Friday at the Stratford Bar & Grill, 800 South Highway Drive, Fenton. $21 and $39. 314-534-1111 or

With all due respect to Willie Nelson and the late, great Waylon Jennings, the real country music outlaw -- David Allan Coe -- is coming to Fenton. Coe had his major run in the late '70s and '80s with "The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Longhaired Redneck," two of many tough-as-gravel, hard-core country albums. But those LPs didn't happen until Coe, now 65, was in his 30s; his teens and 20s were spent mostly in prison, and the imagery in his music, as well as his on-stage demeanor, reflects those experiences and attitudes. And we won't even talk about the pair of X-rated records he used to sell out of his tour bus at shows.

From honky-tonk love ballads to Southern rock anthems of independence and defiance, Coe has forged a career that hasn't always been pretty. His concerts in the '90s were uneven affairs; at one in Phoenix, he refused to finish songs and bolted after 45 minutes. But his latest CD, 2003's "Live at Billy Bob's Texas" saloon in Fort Worth, features a hot band led by his guitarist son Tyler and vocalist Kim Hastings.

Here, a dynamic and crowd-pleasing performer breathes new life into "Longhaired Redneck," "The Ride," "If That Ain't Country" and "Drank My Wife Away." Also worth the price of admission in Fenton will be Coe's "Take This Job and Shove It," a hit for Johnny Paycheck (speaking of outlaws), and the always-hysterical Steve Goodman-John Prine ballad "You Never Even Call Me By My Name." Now if that ain't country, you can ... whoops, can't say that here.