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Paul Burch has an average but likable voice that's a perfect fit for his homey, lived-in songs and his warm, nimble arrangements of pedal steel, acoustic, and tremolo guitars. He sounds as good as ever on his most recent album, Fool for Love (Bloodshot, 2003), nonchalantly imparting fresh new life to the hoariest of honky-tonk tropes--the chunka-chunk rhythms of early Johnny Cash, the rockabilly swing of "White Lightning"-era George Jones, the Cajun tinge of Hank Williams. Thematically he sticks close to the album's title, telling story after story from the perspective of men whose hunger for love leads them into delusion or degradation. On the elegant, Beatlesque "Bad Girl She Used to Be" the singer tries to convince himself that his love has redeemed the woman in question; in "Moments of Weakness" he's willing to ditch his self-respect to exploit the fleeting vulnerabilities of an ex. Burch's set kicks off the second day of the FitzGerald's 23rd annual American Music Festival; among the evening's other highlights are LA-based Congolese salsero Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca and an all-star blues combo with Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. $20 festival admission, $5 for kids under 12; see Fairs & Festivals listings for complete lineup. Friday, July 2, 5 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Frank Swider.

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