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Cleverlys bring bluegrass hilarity, crazy covers to LR | Arts & Culture

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Cleverlys bring bluegrass hilarity, crazy covers to LR

Hailing from a remote part of the Ozark Mountains, near the small town of Cane Spur, Ark., The Cleverlys are a five-man bluegrass/comedy band with what some bluegrassjournal.com calls "a slightly skewed sense of the past, present and future."
You can say that again. Their take on popular hits from three months ago (Katy Perry) and 25 years ago (Yes!) is at once refreshing and breathtaking — because you're laughing so hard you can't catch your breath!

Seriously, according to their not-serious-at-all website, The Cleverlys are a bunch of cousin-brothers-and-nephew hillbillies with uncanny musical abilities and a hilarious take on the modern world, as they see it.

Reviews say they offer somewhat traditional bluegrass-styled music mixed with outrageously nontraditional covers and comedy — but some would argue it's actually just a unique take on a very traditional vein of country comedy, actually: making fun of the "hillbilly" prototype, and often using songs everyone knows and loves to do it.

They must be great at it, because they're regular performers in some of the biggest and hottest venues in Branson; Nashville and Knoxville, Tenn.; Asheville, N.C.; as well as performing at festivals on the West Coast and all points in between. Perhaps the funniest joke by this group is the fact that they are making fun of the archetypal hillbillies — many of whom will dearly love this music and comedy — to such a, uh, gutsy and hysterical degree.

And their appearance and showmanship is uncannily entertaining, even in unexpected ways. When you look at them — at least until they open their mouths — they almost look like Depression-era, big-city gangster-screwups dressed up for a planned bank heist in Dodge City, Kansas. Then they begin to speak and sing and you are 200 percent convinced that "Cane Spur, Ark." not only exists but that you've stopped to get fresh tomatoes along the highway there while passing through…  and then you left quickly and swore you could hear banjo music coming from the woods.

Now, when The Cleverlys start playing, hearing anything at all is possible. You might hear "Digger" sing about the "Lizard Man" who influenced his life of music or the song he wrote about the "Girl With No PantyLine" whom he fell for at his best friend's funeral; you might hear an absolutely dead-serious and yet hysterically funny rendition of Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" complete with a cowboy poetry reading in the middle of the song. And I don't think they ever crack a smile. Oh, and they also do hilarious versions of "Owner of a Lonely Heart" by Yes!, "I Kissed A Girl" by Katy Perry, and "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder, among others. Funny, funny stuff.

The Cleverlys headline at Stickyz Rock N' Roll Chicken Shack on Thursday, April 21 starting at 9 p.m.
Tickets are $10 at the door. For more info call 372-7707 or visit www.stickyz.com.