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Kelly Hogan, with Jay Bennett 

Wednesday, January 30, at the Beachland Ballroom.

Atlanta transplant Kelly Hogan says she digs living in Chicago now, because she can see "crazy-looking, freewheeling senior citizens" in sneakers, walking the streets without fear of molestation. She says it gives her a hopeful feeling for the future. On a similar note, listening to Hogan's voice offers us a hopeful feeling for the future of alternative country/rock music. Yeah, Ryan Adams is getting the buzz, but a single listen to Hogan's sweet singing makes one think there ought to be a king and queen for this genre -- a Bob Dylan-Joan Baez for the 21st century.

Ready for coronation is Hogan, who honed her craft in Atlanta bar bands like the Jody Grind and the Rock*a*Teens prior to going solo, relocating to Chicago, and signing with Bloodshot Records -- the SubPop of alt-country. On her latest disc, Because It Feel Good, Hogan mixes weepers, honky-tonkers, and rockers from the likes of Charlie Rich, Randy Newman, and the Statler Brothers with tunes of her own. The record continues down the path blazed on Hogan's debut, Beneath the Country Underdog, on which her originals shared space with songs by Willie Nelson and Johnny Paycheck.

And though these albums have made Hogan known for her snide and sardonic wit, it's her voice that really carries the weight. Even those who have an issue with wisecracking babes won't leave the club with their drinks half-finished, after an earful of the soulful sound of this crazy-looking, freewheeling young woman.

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