Here Come the Famous Brothers | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Here Come the Famous Brothers

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Here Come the Famous Brothers, at the Royal George Theatre Center. Their names are Willie "B" Famous, Darren Billy Bob (aka "2B") Famous, and Ricky "Famous" Famous. ("He can only remember the one name," his older brother explains.) They've come to a parochial school classroom (which bears an uncanny resemblance to the set for Late Night Catechism) to play us some old-fashioned, down-home mountain-style songs Like Real Folks Used To.

Well, not quite like real folks used to. The Famous Brothers are actually Will Clinger, Darren Stephens, and Rick Vamos, who along with Vicki Quade authored this revue of pseudocountry honkers. And if the comic patter sometimes recalls the Smothers Brothers--or Homer and Jethro--the trio's musicianship cannot be faulted. (The absence of a banjo makes the show's billing as a "bluegrass musical" something of a misnomer, however.) Nor can their love for the material, reflected in parodies like the Civil War draft dodger's anthem "Don't Take No Courage to Be Brave" and the tongue-in-cheek homage to daddy, "Roving Trucker With a Wandering Eye." And for every bellicose boast ("Swiss Army Knife") and double entendre ditty ("Yodel in the Valley," featuring some fine vocal gymnastics from Stephens) there's a sweet pop ballad like "Let No Man Put Asunder" or downright reverent gospel hymn like "As Good as I've Been."

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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