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A local yokel returns home

When sultry chanteuse Allison Moorer takes the stage this weekend at Smith's Olde Bar, joining her will be Atlanta rawk legend Dan Baird on guitar. While Moorer's dark neo-gothic country rock is a far cry from Baird's traditionally frivolous party music, he justifies the gig on common grounds.

"Intense music is intense music, whether it's bumming out or having a good time," says Baird.

The opportunity to tour with Moorer came about through a mutual acquaintance and a shared admiration for Neil Young, Baird recalls. "My friend Adam Landry, who did the majority of the guitar work on Allison's new CD, The Duel, told me they were looking for a second guitarist for the tour. She invited me to a jam session at their rumpus room, and after we played Neil Young songs for an hour, I was in. That was the connection."

Baird's fondest (and most musically influential) memories of Atlanta include a couple of special shows. "I was 18-years-old and saw Little Feat do two sets a night for three consecutive nights at Richard's, and then saw NRBQ do four sets for four nights at Rose's Rising Star. Those were life-changing events."

Inspired by these performances, Baird honed his chops in the smoky rock clubs of Atlanta throughout the late '70s and into the '80s, and made a national splash with the Georgia Satellites. When asked about the consequences of the resulting stardom, Baird replies, "The Satellites were a big boost. It got me noticed. Of course, then it was up to me to do what I had to do to make a career in music."

Now older and wiser, Baird still finds time to have fun with his part-time band the Yayhoos, and admits his true motivation. "I'm surprised that nobody figured out that I just wanted to be in the Rolling Stones."

Allison Moorer, with Dan Baird, performs at Smith's Olde Bar Sat., Aug. 14, 9 p.m. $12.