Along with Garth Brooks and Clint Black, two-time Grammy winner Travis Tritt was on the cutting edge of the New Country movement in the early 1990s. To Tritt's credit, he was always the antithesis of '90s NashVegas excesses like the bad Pat Benatar-with-pedal-steel of Shania Twain. A stronger songwriter and showman than Brooks or Black, Tritt also rocks harder, drawing on the bluesy swing of Skynyrd and the Allmans while keeping touch with country's honky-tonk and rockabilly roots. Like many mainstream country artists, Tritt sports a populist image, but in his case it's reasonably authentic - his family opposed a singing career, so he tried his hand at two failed marriages and a series of dead-end jobs before following his heart. Equally at home with the cocky swagger of "Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof" or the vulnerable balladry of "I Wish I Could Go Back Home." Tritt only falters when he strays too close to the sparkly contemporary country sound. His claim to Waylon Jennings's outlaw legacy is not entirely credible, but with his grounding in rollicking hardscrabble tradition, Tritt is about as good as non-alt country gets. Playing a solo acoustic set at Blumenthal's Knight Theater will only encourage his roots to show. With Lyndsey Highlander. $34.50. Feb. 1, 8 p.m. Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. 704-372-1000.
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