The surface appeal of Austin's Junior Brown is manifold -- the jokey album titles (Guit With It, Junior High), the chuckling lyrics ("You're wanted by the po-lice and my wife thinks you're dead"), the classic country voice that sounds almost like a computerized hybrid of Ernest Tubb, Red Foley, and Tennessee Ernie Ford, the quick-fingered virtuosity with which he plays the sphinxian instrument he calls a "guit-steel," and the ever-so-slightly cocked straw hat. All this has endeared Brown to the novelty set, but there's a bittersweet sincerity in his ballad singing and a true-blue fervor in the way he gnaws at souped-up country blues that makes him the real thing. He's not to be missed live, but come late: Last time I saw opening singer Lucy Lee, a friend said, "This is a woman who's never seen herself on videotape." (Sarah Vowell)
Junior Brown plays Sunday, Sept. 29, at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell. Lucy Lee opens. Tickets are $15; call 885-0750.