Photo by Cody Hamilton
Country music history is rife with compelling partnerships: think Johnny and June, George and Tammy, Porter and Dolly. It’s safe to add Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis to that list too. While they lack the on-again, off-again fireworks of their forbears–Robison and Willis have been happily married since 1996–that steady hand lends their music a lived-in quality that’s impossible to fake. There’s subtlety in their duets, peeking out in the close-range harmonies and dynamic performances that populate this year’s Cheater’s Game, the couple’s first collaboration since 2006’s Christmas-themed Happy Holidays.
It’s fitting that the two started out singing holiday classics together, as their “holiday shindig” has become an annual Austin favorite. Going strong for fifteen years, the concert showcases the pair’s take on Christmas favorites, but spiked with their respective influences (“I’m more rockabilly/60s,” Willis concedes, “and he’s got that ‘70s Texas songwriter thing.”). This year’s holiday concert takes place at the Paramount on Saturday, December 14 (and it’s presented by KUTX Live) with Dale Watson & His Lonestars kicking the evening off. Bruce & Kelly recently stopped by KUTX’s Studio 1A to get listeners in the holiday mood, and today’s song of the day comes from that live performance. With (relatively) frigid temperatures gripping much of the Lone Star State, the Austin duo offer up “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” as a warm tonic.