For a genre of art to reach its full potential, it needs a bad boy. Comedy had Lenny Bruce, film has Robert Downey Jr., punk rock had…well, everybody. Point is, without a rebel, the genre becomes stagnant. For country music since the 1970s, that figure has has been David Allan Coe.
Coe has been an outlaw all his life. Not just in music, but from the actual law. As all fans of the man know, Coe spent the first few decades of life in the best breeding ground for twangy blues- namely, prison. After a colorful past where he ran into some of the more formative influences on his music, Coe made it to Nashville where he’s been entrenched as a fringe figure of the country scene since his first album, Penitentiary Blues.
The typical label attached to Coe is that of “cult figure.” While that may be the case, Coe’s success as an outsider has been so prolonged that he’s hardly the unknown that the label suggests. Coe has been a longtime collaborator with the likes of Kid Rock and the late Dimebag Darrell, writing several songs for Kid Rock and releasing the album Rebel Meets Rebel with Darrell. And while this might impress the more mainstream or heavy metal listener, true fans of Coe know him for his own merits.
As for Coe’s merits? He’s been called out by many as a racist, most notably the New York Times, but that caricature misses a subtlety to Coe that isn’t always apparent in many of his racial-epithet-filled songs. There’s a side to Coe that is as much calculated marketing effort as firebrand. The majority of his songs fit nicely into a self-sustaining mythology of a hard-scrabble life lived in exile. And while he did record a couple of X-rated novelty albums a few decades ago (reportedly at Shel Silverstein’s behest), Coe has mellowed some over the years, producing ballads like, “Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone),” that would later become popularized by the likes of Tanya Tucker and Johnny Cash.
Of course, if you’re going to the concert over at Weirdo’s on the 25th, odds are you’re going to hear the kind of bombastic sing-along anthems that made Coe the larger-than-life figure he is today. Classics like “Long Haired Redneck” and “Willie, Waylon, And Me” are both tongue-in-cheek odes to the massive chip on Coe’s shoulder. His songs strike the delicate balance between bemoaning his lack of cred, while simultaneously boosting his cred as honky tonk renegade. It’s hard not to indulge in the guilty pleasures of a self-aware artist writing songs that work just as well live in a crowded amphitheater or playing on an old pickup’s busted radio.
If you’re looking to experience the live music end of the spectrum, come and check out the show at Weirdo’s at 7pm on the 25th. Tickets are only $25 in advance ($30 at the door). For that price, you get a performance from fellow country performer Brett McCormick, as well as an autographs session with Nikki Leigh. For those of you not familiar with fine literature, Leigh was the most recent Playmate of the Month. Or as the always PC Coe might say, “The Terrific Titties Title Bearer.” Regardless of your reason to come to the show, don’t miss your chance to see an icon of outlaw country. Hell, if you head to the event page and click the “I Like It” button, we’ll give you a chance to go for free. That’s enough to even make a bitter, crusty old crooner like Coe smile.