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What's Old is new

"I wish you were here/I wish I was, too."

The alt-country movement of the middle '90s produced some great songwriters, who in turn conjured some great lyrics and zeitgeist-capturing couplets. But this one, penned with a Haiku-like precision by Old 97's singer/guitarist/songwriter/unwitting sex symbol Rhett Miller for the 1995 song "Big Brown Eyes," nails the tenor of the time for me like no other.

For Miller, just as it was for so many of his peers and so much of the audience he was addressing, the era was one of booze-fueled ennui and Gen-X-style confused rebellion. (In other cultures, this is often referred to as "your 20s.")

Maybe Miller, along with the rest of us, was simply warming up for the emotional numbness that would be required to survive the veritable collapse of the world waiting just a few short years ahead. Or maybe everyone in their 20s is confused and, er, thirsty. I can't really remember. But I do remember Miller's songs making an impact.

The Old 97's reconvened a few years back, following solo turns by their frontman Miller, and the band has now released what just might be its finest album, "Blame it on Gravity," which hit the streets in July. Now, the group has taken to the road and brought along a genuine living legend in the world of country music: none other than Charlie Louvin -- yes, one half of the Louvin Brothers, a country music hall of famer and co-creator of one of the most haunting sounds in the history of American music.

The Old 97's and Charlie Louvin arrive for a show in the Town Ballroom (681 Main St.) at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Doors open at 7 p.m., and remaining tickets are available through Tickets.com or the Town Ballroom box office.

-- Jeff Miers

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