Charlie Robison has been around. He was born right here in Houston, but grew up alongside equally (if much differently) gifted songwriting brother Bruce in the South Central Texas ranching town of Bandera. In the '80s and '90s, he spent time in two of Austin's best-known and longest-running country/roots ensembles, Two Hoots and a Holler and Chapparal. By the end of the latter decade, Robison had landed a major-label deal with Sony Nashville on the strength of songs like "Barlight," which a lot of regulars at Austin's Continental Club can probably still recite verbatim.
Then, at 1999's Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, he gave a roomful of radio programmers looking for a reason to put him on the air just the opposite: "I'm the greatest thing you're ever going to see," he said from the stage, "but you probably won't play me because you're too fucking stupid." Label and radio support for his next album, 2001's Step Right Up, was minimal. Imagine that.
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Since then, Robison has carved out a comfortable niche on the Texas Music/dancehall circuit, where he's certainly one of the most pointed, acerbic performers out there. But he also has a sentimental side that comes out on songs like "New Year's Day" (from his most recent album, 2004's Good Times), and live Robison and his band can mash the gears like Copperhead Road-era Steve Earle.
Of course, most people probably know him because, until recently, he was married to one of the Dixie Chicks. If you'd like free tickets to see Robison at House of Blues tonight - and, as they say around the campfire in Bandera, Rocks Off has enough tickets to choke a horse - just answer this simple question.
Which Dixie Chick was it, and what was her maiden name?
Pick tickets up at 1621 Milam, Suite 100, downtown Houston. The office closes at 6 p.m.. Doors at House of Blues open at 7 p.m.