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June Carter Cash

June Carter Cash

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When Lucinda Williams brings her Grammy-winning catalog to Mesa Arts Center on May 30, concertgoers will have the chance to hear one of the shining lights in the world of Americana music, that rootsy mix of country, rock, folk and blues.Lucinda WilliamsWhen: 8 p.m.

Saturday, May 30.Where: Mesa Arts Center, 1 E.

Main St.

Mesa.Price: $28-$38.Details: 480-644-6500, www.mesaartscenter.comThe Louisiana-born Williams has written engaging songs about the many ups and downs of her life for three decades and broke through nationally in 1998 with her "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" album.Her descriptive lyrics and catchy melodies prompted Time magazine to name Williams, 55, "America's best songwriter" in 2002.Here are some other Americana standouts worth checking out:Rodney Crowell - This Houston-born singer-songwriter recorded one of 2008's best album in any genre, "Sex and Gasoline." After working his way onto the mainstream country charts in the '80s and '90s, Crowell has steadily drifted toward more progressive and folksy fare.

His semiautobiographical 2001 CD, "The Houston Kid," is brimming with clever and colorful musical storytelling.

Crowell was married to Rosanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash for 13 years, and his former father-in-law appears on the "Houston Kid" album.Rosanne Cash - This singer-songwriter scored No.

1 country hits in the '80s with such tracks as "Seven Year Ache" before veering away from the mainstream with 1990's stark "Interiors" CD.

Two years later, Cash moved from Nashville to New York and began to integrate folk and pop sounds more heavily into her music.

Her powerful 2006 CD, "Black Cadillac," inspired by the loss of her father and mother, June Carter Cash, was nominated for a Grammy for best folk/Americana album.Steve Earle - Another singer-songwriter with Houston ties (though he was born in Virginia), Earle became a larger-than-life figure in Americana when he self-destructed after being hailed as one of Nashville's "new traditionalists" in the '80s.

Earle fell heavily into alcohol and drugs and became nearly homeless in the early '90s before he was jailed by a judge whom he later credited with saving his life.

Check out Earle's 1986 CD, "Guitar Town," for a nearly flawless combination of country, rock and folk.

His latest album, "Townes," pays tribute to ill-fated Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt.Son Volt - For a strong dose of alternative rock with a touch of twang, this St.

Louis-spawned band is tough to beat.

Led by Jay Farrar, an alumnus of Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt's music ranges from folksy ballads to out-and-out rockers.

The band has undergone a few roster shake-ups since its 1995 debut and essentially has become a vehicle for Farrar's wide-ranging musical visions.

Son Volt will release their sixth full-length studio CD, "American Central Dust," in July.Patty Griffin - The work of this master songwriter has been recorded by such artists as the Dixie Chicks, Emmy Lou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Martina McBride and Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Griffin, who spent her early days performing in the Northeast, leans heavily toward folk but adds country and rock flavoring that appeals to the artists who have turned her work into hits.

Griffin was named artist of the year by the Americana Music Association in 2007, the year she released her acclaimed "Children Running Through" album.Joe Ely - This singer-guitarist has crafted a raucous brand of Americana that owes plenty to the hundreds of honky-tonks in his native Texas, as well as the sounds seeping up from Mexico.

In his early days, Ely leaned toward rock, touring with the Clash and singing on that band's 1982 hit "Should I Stay or Should I Go." But such recent albums as 2007's "Happy Songs From Rattlesnake Gulch" have celebrated Ely's country and Latin influences.Lyle Lovett - This Texan's self-titled debut CD put him onto mainstream country radio in 1986 (with major help from Phoenix country standout J.

David Sloan), but Lovett almost immediately moved to a much more complex recipe that melded big band, gospel, blues, country and rock.

Since then, Lovett, whose studio and touring bands have included Scottsdale guitarist Ray Herndon and former Valley singer Francine Reed, hasn't stopped exploring new corners of American music.

The latest album by the ex-husband of actress Julia Roberts is 2007's "It's Not Big, It's Large."
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