Bemoaning the death of candor and edge in country music has become a bemoanable cliché all its own. One need not worry about indulging such shopworn complaints when dealing with iconoclastic singer/songwriter David Allan Coe, one of the original gangstas of outlaw country. The fact that he penned the classic Johnny Paycheck tune "Take This Job and Shove It" is enough to secure him a lifetime of dirt-road cred, yet Coe is perhaps best known for singing what the ditty's very own lyrics describe as the perfect country and western song, "You Never Even Call Me by My Name," a classic written by Steve Goodman and John Prine. But honesty and tradition come with rough edges. Coe's best songs are often pumped up on rebel spirit and laced with dark humor, but even the most jaded fan of shock comedy has to wince at some of the songs on Coe's über-vulgar novelty albums of the late '70s and early '80s, Nothing Sacred and Underground Album, which include cringe-inducing tracks like "Nigger Fucker." Coe's gag tune "Fuck Anita Bryant" is a takedown of homophobia's poster bitch, yet the song is dominated by cheap gay jokes. Where exactly does Coe stand? Even in his later years Coe remains difficult to pin down. Come see him at Cabooze and witness one of the last stalwarts of a bygone era—with all the thrills, contradictions, and complications that encompasses. 21+.
Sun., May 31, 8 p.m., 2009