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It's not the clothes that makes Fulks, it's the music

Johnny D's, Somerville, Mass., Nov. 4, 1998

By Jeffrey B. Remz

SOMERVILLE, MA - Robbie Fulks wore a black Reba McEntire T-shirt underneath his white long-sleeved shirt while performing at Johnny D's Wednesday.

But for the uninitiated, that certainly is not his reference point when it comes to country music.

Nope, the Chicagoan is more apt to play a honky tonker with his sharp wit and viewpoint ever present in songs he wrote or else let it rip in more rocking numbers.

In other words, Fulks has nothing to do with what you hear on country radio today.

Fulks, touring behind his major label debut, "Let's Kill Saturday," turned in another strong out in a 110-minute show.

The lanky Fulks looks nothing like a man into country music at all. But he sure can sing a honky tonker or a sad ballad real fine.

Fulks poured his guts into "God Isn't Real," not the kind of song that you're likely to hear in the Bible Belt.

And he also could mix it up with the ultra-funny "I Told Her Lies," about a man who did that to his woman his entire life.

"Cigarette State" is how Fulks, who used to live there, refers to North Carolina. Later in the song, he sings praises of Alabama: "Alabama's grand - the state, not the band."

Fulks also could be quite funny in his comments to the enthusiastic crowd.

Not everything remained in the country vein, a change evident on his new disc. He rocked out on a number of songs, including a good, but probably tongue-in-cheek version of Paul McCartney's "Jet."

While Fulks is up to snuff in playing rock, his forte is country where his voice can shine. At times, he is an excitable singer, who will shout, making him indecipherable.

Fulks was backed by a strong trio, including Lorne Rall on bass, Dan Massey on drums and newcomer Grant Tye on guitar.

Fulks may have zip in common with Reba, but don't confuse commercial with artistic success.

Sisters Morales, led by Lisa and Roberta Morales of Houston, opened the evening with a winning mix of country, Mexican and rock songs. They excelled on vocal harmonies, somewhat recalling The Dixie Chicks.

Reckless Kelly from Austin followed, turning in a good set as well. Lead singer Willy Braun graduated with a Ph.D in Steve Earle, making you wonder if at times you were listening to Memorex or an Earle impersonator. While a samey quality set in after awhile, the roots and country oriented quintet is a band of promise.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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