Are You Ready for the Country: Ode to Billy Ray

You wanna do something Friday night that I'll bet you ten rounds with Jose Cuervo will make you the most original person in this whole damned town? Something none of your friends would even imagine doing? Something that will make you a brave and unique individual?

No, I'm not gonna say "Go ride the bull at Cowboy Slim's." Hold on that 'til Saturday when the new Uptown bar, which contrary to its name normally does not feature a mechanical bull for cowboys to ride, is hosting Stand Up for the City, a fundraising event for the PEACE Foundation's Northside Youth StandUp program featuring live music, a BBQ, dunk tank, everyone's favorite frat drinking pasttime known as "tippy cup" and a mechanical bull (5:00-close, $10 admission). If you must go to Cowboy Slim's on Friday night, you're not gonna find a bull to ride but you can pretend you're in New Orleans, instruct your male friends to go up to the rooftop at Stella's with beads and wave them in the air at the women on the patio at Slim's and maybe you'll get to see some tits. I dunno. Just seems like that kinda place.

No. Don't do that. Friday night, I dare you, I double dog dare you to go to the Billy Ray Cyrus show at Grand Casino Hinckley. You know Billy Ray. The man who sported 1992's most famous mullet now spends most of his time defending the honor of his young daughter under heat for taking risqué photos, kissing girls, and for benign pole dancing.

But before his young daughter snatched his place in the spotlight, Billy Ray was of course best known for the hit single "Achy Breaky Heart," which set off the line dancing storm of the century. Hell, let's go ahead and call it the line dancing storm of both this and the last millennia, as while I'm no hillbilly Nostradamus I'm gonna reckon the new millennium will not repeat the line dancing craze of the 1990s.

I dunno. I only line danced to that shit when it was required in gym dance, always being more of a "Boot Scootin' Boogie" gal myself. At any rate, his influence on 90s country is pretty damned undeniable. In fact, once while killing time in the Nashville airport I found a heart defibrillator on the wall, a sign below reading "Don't break my heart, my achy breaky heart." Har har. It had been donated by the Billy Ray Cyrus fan club. Wynonna's donated defib down the hall wasn't nearly as clever, though here's to hoping her fan club doesn't have to come up with its own clever tag line should she not lose some of that damned weight she's put on in the last twenty years and expire prematurely.

You're giving me that look. You appear unconvinced. Fine. Not gonna go? Then I triple dog dare you to learn the steps to this line dance, go down and see if Cowboy Slim's has the song in the jukebox, and assuming they don't, choose instead some Jay-Z and line dance to it.

Or come find me, I'll likely be drinkin' at the Hex. You wow me with your moves, I buy your drinks for the night.

Billy Ray Cyrus. Friday 9/25/09, 8:00 P.M. $20 and up. Grand Casino Hinckley, 777 Lady Luck Drive, Hinckley.