Goodbye, George?

Strait's "The Cowboy Rides Away" tour closes out this year's rodeo.

Courtney Galle, the Pavilion's marketing and PR manager, says the rule is the venue's alone, not partner Live Nation's. Tablets are considered much more distracting than simple smartphones.

The Pavilion also hosts a variety of performing-arts events, such as performances by the Houston Symphony and numerous dance companies. These groups are usually bound by union rules that prohibit audiences from recording their shows, rules Galle says the Pavilion is backing in full.

Galle says the venue has no plans to ban cell phones, but of course the artist or artists onstage can always do so.

Merle Haggard had a sold-out Stafford Centre crowd spellbound on March 21.
Jason Wolter
Merle Haggard had a sold-out Stafford Centre crowd spellbound on March 21.

No performers have specifically requested that iPads and tablets be banished, she notes. Instead, Galle says, numerous fans' complaints that the devices were hindering their enjoyment of shows became the deciding factor.

Last year the venu created the Instagram account @pavilion_tx, which Galle says should be updated during every show so fans can check out pictures from onstage.

The venue will give fans who do not leave their tablets at home the option of taking the devices back to their cars, Galle adds, or checking them at the venue's information booth to ­reclaim them at the end of the event.

Galle recommends calling the Pavilion's box office or checking the venue's Web site before attending a show to see what will or will not be permitted. She adds that BuzzFest, which returns to the Pavilion Saturday, April 20, has the most stringent rules that she has seen so far this year.

Everybody's Talkin'

Bow Down
Beyoncé takes some heat for her r-rated new track.

Angelica Leicht

Ooh, Beyoncé! I see your potty mouth, and I kinda like it.

Last week Queen B released a new song on Tumblr, "Bow Down/I Been Down," and there's been mass hysteria a-flowin' from the general public over it, as one would expect. It's freakin' Beyoncé.

I mean, who doesn't love a new Bey track? Well, apparently in this case, a lot of folks.

If you haven't heard the backlash, consider yourself lucky. But here Bey's lyrics have deviated from her normal nursery rhymes and — collective gasp for effect, please — include words like "bitch" and "trick." What was she thinking?

The deranged track is full of trap-inspired drum slaps and siren-y synth; it's the definition of overproduced, but in a way that only Beyoncé can pull off. She also throws in a badass nod to Southern hip-hop on the second half of the track, where her vocals get chopped and screwed.

She even raps about bumpin' UGK and the Geto Boys. Screwston, we should be proud, not offended.

Despite the track's redeeming qualities, it seems that the naughty side of Ms. Fierce isn't yet palatable to the general public, and every conservative has come out of the woodwork to bitch about it. (See? The word "bitch" ain't so bad.)

"Bow Down/I Been Down" has been called everything from "troubling" to "misogynistic" and "offensive to women." Critics have even cited the use of "unnecessary swearing" as the source of their woes, to which I say bollocks.

Swearing is never unnecessary, good sirs and madams. I'm also slightly perplexed about the use of "misogynistic" to describe an anthem by a woman, but whatever. I suppose there might be a loophole somewhere.

Is it typical Beyoncé fashion? Hell, no.

But it ain't bad, and it certainly is not worthy of all the hate. To her, I say g'head on, girl; the word "bitch" ain't shit when you hear what Lil' Kim can do.

Hillbilly Highway

All the Federales Say
The story behind Willie and Merle's 1983 hit "Pancho and Lefty," as told by Haggard himself.

Chris Gray

Especially in Texas and the Southwest, "Pancho and Lefty" long ago became more than a song and something closer to a pop-culture touchstone. According to Urbanspoon, you can even dine at Pancho & Lefty's Tex-Mex restaurant in St. George, Utah. Unforgivably, it charges separately for chips and salsa, but still.

Written by the late Townes Van Zandt, "Pancho" originally appeared on the onetime Houstonian's mordantly titled 1972 album The Late Great Townes Van Zandt. According to a PBS interview he gave in the mid-'80s, some time after Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson's version had become a monster hit, Van Zandt and his band were pulled over near Brenham on their way to a gig in Houston. The officers let him out of the speeding ticket because the Washington County dispatchers used the handle "Pancho and Lefty" to identify the two cops.

"I realize I wrote it, but it's hard to take credit for the writing, because it came from out of the blue," Van Zandt tells the interviewer. "It came through me. It's a real nice song."

Reached recently at his ranch near Redding, California, Haggard says Nelson wanted to cut the song after liking the version on Emmylou Harris's 1977 album Luxury Liner. The two old friends and legendary country songwriters in their own right still talk once or twice a month, Haggard says, noting that they have come to take on a "phenomenal likeness" over the years.

"His bass player died at the end of last year, and mine went into a coma," Haggard says. "We've been married [to the same woman] the same amount of times."

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