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David Dondero 

Sunday, April 21, at the Grog Shop.

For yet another example of a perfectly good word losing its meaning to common usage, consider "troubadour." The way it gets used nowadays, you'd think any old sensitive-type coffeehouse folkie qualified, particularly if he or she writes songs about, you know, people. And things.

David Dondero, on the other hand, is all but a walking, talking, singing, strumming textbook definition of a modern troubadour. Emphasis on "modern," inasmuch as his recently released LP, Shooting at the Sun With a Water Gun, doesn't exactly focus on courtly love; nevertheless, there's much to recommend Shooting, one of 2001's happy surprises. Dondero has an uncanny ear for personality and regional patois, telegraphed in songs such as "The Real Tina Turner" and "Pied Piper of the Flying Rats," which are based on observations and eavesdropped conversations plumbed from the years he's spent wandering coast-to-coast in his pickup.

Other tracks are more straightforwardly confessional, notably "Anatomy of a 1970s Divorce," a lacerating vision of his parents' unraveling marriage, softened by a bouncing beat, typically catchy melodies, and his plea for anguished children not to give up either their hope or their innocence. Keep on truckin', in other words.

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