David Allan Coe at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill, 1/13/11


David Allan Coe January 13, 2011 Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill, St. Louis Park

David Allan Coe at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill, on a Thursday.

What can one expect of a night like this?


David Allan Coe plays the part of much-maligned but nevertheless famed country singer/songwriter of your folks' era. Toby Keith's is a suburban franchise superbar showcasing country music, Ford pickup trucks, and, let us not forget, that jingoistic, thick-thighed superstar Toby Keith.

Taking the stage to a sea of middle fingers around 9:20, as per usual Coe was heavy on the randomly assembled medleys of songs you may or may not know word-for-word, often auto harmonized, at other times accompanied by the actually-vocalized harmonies of his very shouty wife Kimberly. I'm not sure exactly sure what a mashup is or what that super sensation Girl Talk does as part of his touted performances but I feel like Coe's seemingly random medleys must approximate what those mashups and Girl Talk thingamafucks seek to accomplish - pleasing the sensibilities with a bunch of songs you know and love.

I saw David Allan Coe at the Orpheum Theater in Sioux Falls almost a year ago, and between that experience and the accounts of friends who've seen him perform elsewhere, it seems his delivery has the reputation of falling a little flat. While I've seen him on days when he's had the look of someone half-dead, I've on the other hand heard tales of Coe playing dirty bars and impromptu performances outside truck stops, complete with his storied tough attitude and rough demeanor, as well as surprise country renditions of Prince songs within his mishmash.


Thursday night's performance fell somewhere in between. Coe, seated throughout his performance and assisted by a drummer, a steel guitar player, his son on lead guitar, wife on occasional harmonies and tambourine, and a guitar tech/personal assistant-type guy who helped ensure his incredibly long hair didn't get tangled up in his guitar strap, seemed a little perkier than when I last saw him, but with energy (noting he's in his 70s) not quite on par with his attitude - this old dog is a lot of bark, with not a whole lot of bite.

After describing himself as a "singer, a songwriter, an actor and a magician," Coe came out the doggy gate delivering a short set of his hits and songs as well as those popularized by others. As he said before he sang the Johnny Paycheck hit "Take This Job and Shove It" - "You hear someone singin' a song and nine times out of ten I wrote it. This guy died and they said the working man's hero wrote it and I thought, shit, I wrote that song." Alas, while he's turned in some memorable performances over the years, it's truly as a songwriter that Coe will have made his mark in country music history. The guy can write a really good song, and that still seems reason enough to me to check him out. Good country music songwriters aren't all that easy to find these days.

Critic's bias: I just really one of these days want to hear him sing one of his Rated X songs - "Fuckin' in the Butt," "Cumstains on the Pillow," or "Don't Bite the Dick." I keep hoping it'll happen. It hasn't yet. The crowd: Hardcore fans (mostly male), and a tiny little woman with bleached blonde hair explaining as she entered the bar, "I love country music! But I don't know who David Allan Coe is." Overheard in the crowd: Cowboys are like men in ballet. They push their shit forward so it looks big in their pants. As a woman, little do you know it's balls and penis. Random notebook dump: Standing near the front of the stage, men shouting lyrics along with Coe, I soon realized the area smells as though someone has shit their pants. I'm pretty sure it was the guy who got in my face when I tried to squeeze by him to take some photos. Hey, asshole, if you're reading this, when you asked, "Who do you think you are" and I answered "your next ex-wife," I didn't mean it. I can't imagine a man in so little control of his bowels would ever be able to take a wife. For more photos: See our full slideshow by Nikki MIller Set List: (Many of these were performed in medley) Ramblin' Man/Are You Ready for the Country/?/I Can Get Off On You/The Ride/Take This Job and Shove It/You Never Even Call Me By My Name/Amanda/If You're Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do It Right)/Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town/If That Ain't Country/Panheads Forever/Please Come to Boston/Drift Away/Follow Me/Help Me Make It Through the Night/Tennessee Whiskey/Ride Em Cowboy/Couldn't Do Nothin' Right/Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile/?/Single Father/?/Midnight Rider/Can't You See/Purple Rain/We're an American Band/Whipping Post