Music » Critics' Picks

Ray Price

7 p.m and 9 p.m. Thursday, May 17. Ameristar Casino (1260 South Main Street, St. Charles).

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They call Ray Price the Cherokee Cowboy, but Cosmopolitan Cowboy is more to the point. Whether styled as a Nudie-suited honky-tonker, a tuxedoed crooner or a feathered chieftain on the Grand Ole Opry, Price reorchestrated country with a progressive, pop sophistication that was more about emotional expansiveness than commercial angles. (And he's the only singer who can make you forget about George Jones.) Without Price, Kris Kristofferson, whose "For the Good Times" and "Sunday Morning Coming Down" he rendered definitively, might be a country footnote; with him, Nashville courted and won an urban audience through its leanest years. Now, into his eighties, his voice is burnished but not tarnished, and his showmanship — he's bringing a small string section and a grand piano — is still the pure essence of grace and skill.

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