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South Texas country siren writes what she wants, goes where the spirit takes her

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"If I had a daughter," singer/songwriter Terri Hendrix offers on the song of the same name, "I'd tell her it's better to be out there on the field of life taking hits and making touchdowns, than bitching about the game in the bleachers."

The lyrics are emblematic of Hendrix's broadminded Americana style, which, if sometimes pained or struggling, nonetheless point the way to a better outcome. She doesn't exactly write happy songs, but neither is the longtime independent artist a downcast malingerer.

Terri Hendrix performs at 9 p.m. May 2 at The Blue Door, 2805 N. McKinley.

"I feel a certain obligation to come out sunny side up," Hendrix said from her San Marcos, Texas, home. "There's no way for me to write in which I'm the victim. If my baby wants to let me go, I won't be chasing him down. I'll hand him his bags and he can leave. I do know the darkness " I know what it looks like and what it smells like. I've been there and done that, and I live my life in a way where I can avoid being in those places, because that's not what life's about."

She originally attended college on a voice scholarship to study opera, but ended up walking away to pursue her multifaceted muse. When labels passed on her first release, 1996's "Two Dollar Shoes," she took inspiration from friend and mentor Marion Williamson, and began releasing music herself " something she's maintained ever since.

COUNTRY-FOLK-BLUES NEXUS
The enterprise hasn't made her rich, but Hendrix can support herself with her music. It's allowed her to follow a free-flowing spirit that runs through a multitude of styles from the Celtic-tinged "Hole in My Pocket" to the Middle Eastern tones that key "Gravity." Although most of her eight studio releases reside in the country-folk-blues nexus, Hendrix's tastes range widely, and inevitably find their way into the music.

"I have a passion for music, and it knows no boundaries," she said. "To me, it's perfectly logical to be working on a jazz record, a techno record and folk record."

Her frequent stage and studio partner is country legend Lloyd Maines, who is best known for his steel guitar playing, but is skilled with just about any stringed instrument. Maines is also a sought-after producer who's worked with artists such as Terry Allen, Jerry Jeff Walker, Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green and Maines' daughter Natalie's band, the Dixie Chicks.

"It's been like learning from and touring with Tiger Woods. I've never met his equal, he's a true musical monster," Hendrix said. "What's really wonderful about it is he would never tell anybody that, and would wince if he even knew I said that."

Hendrix is currently supporting her 2007 album, "The Spiritual Kind." The release is among her finest, highlighted by the lighthearted, finger-picked country of the title track, and the bluegrass swing of "Jim Thorpe's Blues," which complains about our moral dyslexia and "high-tech people with low-tech souls."

There's no telling what she will play at Saturday's Blue Door show, but her set list will likely be smart, catchy, and possessed of a positive spin " because that's what her fans expect.

"That's why we have this kind of cult-grassroots following: They never know what they're going to get," she said. "Everything you do is about the person in the seat that gave you a little bit of their time." "Chris Parker

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