Tonight: Toby Keith at Reliant Stadium

Just think, if not for September 11, Toby Keith would probably still be as bland as dry toast and just as exciting. The horrific events of that day, and our nation's rapid retaliation, suddenly sprung the Oklahoma-born Keith into action - he soon began a whole new career as a political firebrand, a sort of Lee Greenwood on steroids. Keith already had a decade of numerous pop-country hits like ""A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action" and "How Do You Like Me Now?", but it wasn't until 9/11 answer song "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American)" that he became known worldwide. That song's fiercely patriotic and, in some listeners' opinions, borderline-imperialistic leanings brought Keith to the masses and incurred the wrath of left-leaning artists like the Dixie Chicks. Soon he was foisted up as a right-wing cheerleader while, ironically, his own beliefs were more progressively left. Since then, Keith has veered farther away from politics and started writing about standard fare like drinking and whiskey, albeit with a bigger budget and wider audience. He even recorded a hilarious account of his experiences smoking out with Willie on a tour stop. (Something tells us Sean Hannity hasn't heard that one yet.) Keith is currently touring behind October's

That Don't Make Me A Bad Guy

, which has already spawned two No. 1 country hits in "God Love Her" and "She Never Cried in Front of Me."

7 p.m. tonight at Reliant Stadium, Reliant Park, Loop 610 and Fannin, 1-800-726-1313 or www.rodeohouston.com.

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