Hayes Carll at the Hi-Tone Café 

The last time Texas singer-songwriter Hayes Carll was in Memphis, he was playing solo acoustic on the big stage at the Levitt Shell, sandwiched between Todd Snider and Elizabeth Cook. That was a tough spot — linking a fetching local debut to a beloved headliner with a full band. But Carll, up there all by his lonesome, even reduced to singing both halves of his battle-of-the-sexes duet "Another Like You," might have delivered the bill's most enjoyable set. A brainy but plain-spoken alt-country stalwart who mixes Snider's sly sense of humor with the Texas country-rock feel of early Steve Earle, Carll arrived with 2008's Lost Highway debut, Trouble in Mind, one of the past decade's best roots albums, then might have topped it with last year's KMAG YOYO, where he opens stompin' and hollerin', then segues into wry comedy ("Another Like You"), lilting Bakersfield-style country ("Chances Are"), honky-tonk ("Lovin' Cup"), and a downbeat holiday song for the ages ("Grateful for Christmas"). Carll returns to town this week with his full band, which will be nicely paired with the local openers John Paul Keith & the One Four Fives, a bar-band treasure that's perhaps Memphis music's surest live bet. Carll and Keith play the Hi-Tone Café on Thursday, August 9th. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $15.

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