When Borders Books and Music hosts its free "Asphalt Rhythms" show June 1 at the store's Plano location--out in the parking lot, no less--here's an opportunity to hear Texas music's champions (Ronnie Dawson, Jimmie Dale Gilmore), unsung heroes (Bobby Patterson, Doyle Bramhall), renegade pilgrims (Ray Wylie Hubbard), and brilliant keepers-of-the-flame (Cowboys and Indians) on one bill. Gilmore's ostensibly the biggest name, if only because he's the only one pocketing a major-label deal, but when he plays fifth on a seven-act bill, most everybody's a headliner.
Gilmore's new Braver Newer World is where the former Flatlander gets odd and goes off: The title track is all spacey guitars and border horns, and if it doesn't sound "country," that's only because it recalls the Tin Pan Alley of the 1920s; if Gilmore's nasal twang used to recall Willie Nelson, then it now sounds like Rudy Vallee. It's beautifully creepy and frighteningly otherworldly, hard to separate from the ethereal guitars that come on like a storm and creep off like a snail. Gilmore sings, "We're gonna fly away," but he sounds like he can barely get out of his chair.
Dawson, the Blond Bomber who had his shot at teen-age stardom in 1956 only to realize his greatest talent 40 years later, and Cowboys and Indians, young men upholding the swing tradition of Bob Wills and Milton Brown, bookend the bill when it comes to age. Patterson is the local soul great creeping up the comeback trail; Hubbard's the Outlaw who had one big hit ("Up Against the Wall") on someone else's record (Jerry Jeff Walker's Viva Terlingua!); and Bramhall's best-known for teaching Stevie Ray Vaughan how to sing and write. But no matter their fame or obscurity, they're all required reading in the Texas-music-history classroom.
The concert kicks off at 11 a.m. with a performance by Eddie Coker, who will be followed by Cowboys and Indians (1:15 p.m.), Ray Wylie Hubbard (2:30 p.m.), Bobby Patterson (3:45 p.m.), Jimmie Dale Gilmore (5 p.m.), Ronnie Dawson (6:30 p.m.), and Doyle Bramhall (8 p.m.).