. With its sardonic, half-spoken verses and anthemic choruses, it was terrific satire but it wasn't the blues. That was followed by a high-speed hillbilly romp, "Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel," lit up by solos from fiddler Luke Bulla and mandolinist Keith Sewell, bluegrass veterans both. At the end of the song, however, the four backing vocalists—Atkinson, Bowens, Arnold McCuller, and Willie Greene Jr.—started clucking and crowing in delirious four-part gospel harmony as if they were the Five Blind Boys of Alabama reincarnated as poultry. That provided the show's unlikely door into the blues, and a few songs later, Lovett led the four singers through a stark version of "I Will Rise Up," a slow lament that the leader had adapted from the old Texas prison blues song, "Ain't No More Cane." Lovett's voice was as dry and sturdy as a West Texas ranch, but his four harmonizers fluttered around him like mourning doves, thus suggesting both a prisoner's mean circumstances in the present and high hopes for the future. Like Willie Nelson and Ray Charles, Lovett is one of the rare performers who can honestly say he transcends genres. He whittled down his large ensemble to a bluegrass quartet (himself, Bulla, Sewell, and bassist Leland Sklar) for three tunes ("Pantry," "I'll Come Knocking," and "Up in Indiana"). On the sharp, brisk arrangements of "Cowboy Man," "My Baby Don't Tolerate," and "That's Right (You're Not from Texas)," the full complement of musicians split the difference between Western Swing and big-band jazz. On the slower, understated arrangements of "Natural Forces," "If I Had a Boat," and "Whooping Crane," Lovett combined the dignity and command of his role models. Dressed simply in a white shirt and black slacks, his brown curls piled atop his slanting face, he sang of being caught between gravity and wishes with an anguished yearning. Maybe that's the blues and maybe it's not, but it sure was effective as the sun went down on the green hills of Cockeysville Saturday night.