Lyle Lovett's skills as a performer—on the music stage and, when the mood strikes, on the big screen—are widely acknowledged. Same goes for his songwriting, since he's proven equally adept at straight storytelling la "North Dakota" and quirky metaphors like the one that drives "Keep It in Your Pantry" on last year's Natural Forces. And his ability as an interpreter surfaced early, courtesy of his take on "Stand By Your Man" before being put on full display with 1998's Step Inside This House, a two-disc salute to Texas songwriters and, by extension, the spirit and pull of his home state.
What's underappreciated is Lovett's role as bandleader. Putting the Large Band, an outfit that falls somewhere between a gospel-nurtured Memphis revue and a sprawling Nashville country band (and, yes, that's a lot of Tennessee for a Texas boy), through its paces must have its challenges. But Lovett makes it look smooth and easy, Bob Wills-style. Check out this 8 p.m. show to witness the singing, scribbling maestro at work. Tickets start at $37. See www.dpacnc.com. —Rick Cornell