Tonight: Blacktop Gypsy at the Firehouse Saloon

Not many acts on MySpace list as their influences Merle Haggard and Fleetwood Mac. Or George Jones and Sheryl Crow. But Dallas outfit Blacktop Gypsy does, and it doesn't take many listens to their music to get the connections. Certainly the template is country but with three women in the mix there's lots of room to paint outside the lines of traditional country. And while there's no testosterone, that doesn't mean there's no muscle.

The band also has a couple of secret weapons, fiddler Heather Stalling and guitar picker Rodney Pyeatt. Stalling, who is married to Dallas Americana singer-songwriter Max Stalling, has played the dance hall circuit for years with Ed Burleson and Mark David Manders. The daughter of a classical violinist, Stalling has had a fiddle in her hand her entire life and started going to contests at the tender age of four. She tears up as many resined bows as that guy in Jethro Tull.

Pyeatt has had a long career in the sideman shadows, playing with Selena when he was only in the 9th grade and before she became a huge international star. Afterward, he worked for years in Rick Trevino's band when Trevino was a Nashville hitmaker. Pyeatt has also played with half the bands in the Texas music scene. A consummate picker, Pyeatt can play everything from country to B.B. King.

The other element that separates Blacktop Gypsy is what singer Andie Kaye Joyner's sultry voice does to some very smart, well-crafted lyrics. Along with sister Darcy Starcher and Stalling, Joiner writes some of the most mature, thoughtful female love songs on the scene. Check out "Carolina" or the sassy, slap-yo-face "I Ain't Your Mama" if you want to know what the ladies think.

Coupled with headliner Max Stalling, this show should be a stellar example of the finest North Texas has to offer on the country/roots scene.

9pm, Friday March 20, Firehouse Saloon, 5930 Southwest Freeway, 713-977-1962.

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