Hank Topless

Plush, Monday, Sept. 6

With the majority of Tucsonans having already purged the contents of their wallets, and seeking to give their livers a respite after the long holiday weekend of CD release parties, benefit shows and barbecues, it wasn't much of a surprise to find a solo acoustic gig by Topless Opry's headmaster, Hank Topless (aka Tim Gallagher), sparsely attended, even though admission was free.

The relaxed atmosphere and lengthy sets of front-lounge shows at the recently expanded and renovated Plush seem to inspire a certain looseness in performers, who tend to mine the depths of their catalog to keep the audience's attention during the course of two or more hours. Thankfully, with a healthy number of originals and covers (including Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown"--a holdover from Topless Opry's set at last year's Great Cover-Up--and songs by Buck Owens and Waylon Jennings), not to mention his myth-spinning, witty between-song banter ("I gotta get up early tomorrow to chop up freshly-cut tobacco leaves and pick cotton. We don't have a cotton gin where I live, so I gotta do it all by hand"), Gallagher was more than up to the task.

Nattily dressed in Tucson formal--a suit and a cowboy hat--Gallagher provided those in attendance with a performance of dark country songs spiked with his typical deadpan humor, perfectly suited to a post-long weekend wind-down, a fine diversion from the fact that the return to work or school was just around the corner. Highlights included an as-yet unrecorded Gallagher original loaded with pathos ("She spends every Friday night in sensible shoes / She's a waitress with the blues") and a Carter Family cover that was followed by the comment, "It's good to do dead people's songs 'cause that way they can't get mad at ya." He needn't have worried.

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