There are bastards, and there are Bastards. It’s something that Mark Stuart knows all too well. For years, he led the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash. They shortened their name recently, but the music isn’t that much different — it’s still hard country more rooted in a roadhouse than Music Row. Stuart sounds invigorated after shedding the long black veil of the Cash moniker. Truth be told, the name — which suggested a Cash cover band — was always somewhat misleading. Stuart, a recent Southern California transplant to Austin, sings more like rough ’n’ tumble Texans Billy Joe Shaver, Steve Earle and James McMurtry, while the Sons certainly rock harder than Cash ever did. The band’s latest album, the hard-driving Bend in the Road, barrels along, powered by lively travelin’ tunes (“Restless, Ramblin’ Man,” “Seven Miles to Memphis”), rugged twang-rockers (“When Love Comes a Callin’,” “Power of a Woman”) and even honky-tonk laments (“Lonestar, Lovestruck Blues,” “Carolina”). The result is a splendidly spirited amalgam of Bob Seger/John Mellencamp-style blue-collar rock and old-school Merle Haggard/Waylon Jennings’ rebel country music. The show starts at 9 p.m. at the Town Fryer (5000 Euclid Ave., 216.431.0700). Admission is free. — Michael Berick
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