Ronny Elliott, with Ken Gaines

Ronny Elliott is like a Brillo pad; if he rubs against you, there's gonna be some scrapes. About as far from the alt-country mainstream as you can get, Elliott's records are like surly little history lessons, full of pop culture trivia about wayward geniuses like Tampa Red, Lord Buckley, Gorgeous George, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sid Vicious and Degas. Elliott is so screw-you independent, he flipped off the alt-country journalism establishment in song ("South By So What") in what Robbie Fulks called the most commercially suicidal act by an artist he's ever seen.

Still, Britain's Mojo magazine genuflects to Elliott's every release, and a hard-core fan base scours the Internet for word of an Elliott appearance. The larger-than-life character, who once braced Jimi Hendrix's amps to keep them from tumbling over, makes records for next to nothing in his living room, and he doesn't clean them up with ProTools or do a billion takes to correct the occasional misstep.

Elliott is like the people he sings about in one of his best tunes ("I only wanna be with the ones who burn, burn, burn / Ones who light up the night like a cigarette"), so there's little doubt this rare Houston appearance will mark the first time anyone has ever heard the real history of "The Twist" at Anderson Fair. That venerable folk joint may never be the same after Elliott, who claims to have "a copy of Lolita just in case I need it / monkey on my back, tryin' not to feed it."

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William Michael Smith