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Country is a tradition-bound form, and while a country crooner can't go wrong with tunes about horses, beer, or line dancing, merely singing about the fact that you're singing country music will suffice. In "A Country Tune," Cleveland's 77 South maintains the practice: "When I hear a country lick/If I don't hear one quick/I think I'm gonna lose my mind/Three things that I love most: my girlfriend, my truck, and my dog," says singer Jeff Ronay as a steel guitar wails in the background.

The band's debut EP, 1-800 was recorded in Nashville, but make no mistake: Cleveland can turn out real country -- none of that shiny radio stuff -- with inspired harmonies, pounding piano, lively mandolin, and touches of ramblin'-man rock. In addition to loyal hounds and pickup trucks, Ronay covers both sides of love. "21 Years" thanks the Lord for a long, loving marriage. And the title track is a classic-model kiss-off: "If you want to reach me/The number's in the dresser drawer/Just dial 1-800-I don't care anymore." If you want to reach the group, it's the house band for WOIO's Browns Town Live on Monday nights.

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More by D.X. Ferris


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