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Published: Friday, 5/7/2004

Flatlanders hitting their stride

Since getting together in 1973, the Flatlanders, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock, have never fit into mainstream country music. They were never quite traditionalists and never quite pop.

For years, their alternative country sound has been shunned by radio, but their music has gained an almost cultlike following among fans since their original recordings were re-released in 1990 as "More a Legend Than a Band."

Those first cuts were thought to be forever lost until Rounder records was able to find them and reproduce them on the 1990 album.

After parting in the 1980s to pursue solo careers, Ely, Gilmore, and Hancock reunited to perform a song on the soundtrack to Robert Redford's 1998 film, The Horse Whisperer. In 2002, they released an album, "Now Again," followed up by their recent release, "Wheels of Fortune."

After years of an almost mythical existence, the Flatlanders are hitting their stride, playing before sold-out crowds in clubs across the country. Tonight, they will be playing a sold-out show at the Ark in downtown Ann Arbor.

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