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DON WALSER

After serving in the National Guard for 39 years, 61-year-old country singer Don Walser has a bright future ahead. Though his new album, Texas Top Hand (Watermelon), displays his natural ease with country styles of the past, he sings with so much energy and charisma that there's no trace of sentimentalism. Whether Walser's yodeling gleefully on the spritely title track, singing with honky-tonk punchiness on a cover of the Merle Travis ditty "Divorce Me C.O.D.," or crooning with weepy pathos on "Danny Boy," his remarkable voice is the focus, despite crack support from his Pure Texas Band. As he visits country's various styles--including western swing, cowboy songs (he nails the Sons of the Pioneers classic "Tumbling Tumbleweeds"), and hard-core honky-tonk--his commanding warble disintegrates such useless genre lines; it's all good old-time country to Walser. In his hometown of Austin, where he's considered a local treasure, he attracts audiences of all ages, social backgrounds, and musical tastes--his wonderful music is all that matters. Friday, 10 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 708-788-2118. PETER MARGASAK

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