Country Boy Makes Good

Every once in a while, the good stuff (i.e., the real thing) actually makes the charts and even gets to stick around for a spell. Take Alan Jackson, one of the photogenic "hat hunks" following the wake of Garth Brooks' ascendance. The more cynical might pigeonhole Jackson that way, but if you bother to listen, he has more hardcore honky-tonk country in his pinky finger than Garth has in his whole thumb. True, Jackson does have "professional-sounding" (to put it kindly) production, but it gives Jackson a grain to go against, making his Jones and Haggard influences all the sweeter. Plus, he writes most of his songs, and despite his reigning over the country charts (20 number-one singles, 20 other Top Ten hits between 1990 and 2003), he's never overtly courted crossover success — meaning no shoehorned-in duets with Beyoncé, Will Smith, Bruce Willis, or Streisand. Buck, Merle, George, and Dwight don't get on the radio anymore, but their legacy is in very capable hands.

Alan Jackson plays at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 7, at the Hard Rock Live, 5747 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Call 954-523-3309.

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Mark Keresman