String Fever

Lyle Lovett's super-cellist John Hagen smashes preconceptions about his instrument

Could he be that someone?
"Ah...it's too late for me."
He laughs and it's hard telling whether the statement's just another self-effacing sneeze, a sideman's automatic reaction. "I can accept the spotlight for short periods of time," he says. "But I don't know that I'd want to be the focus."

The current focus, Lyle Lovett, has become a close friend as well as a steady employer. And his shows give Hagen a rare, delicious chance to tweak the public ear, coming as he does "from the underdog position of being a cellist" on a pop stage. Unexpected. Underrated. And entirely, boneheadedly, underestimated.

Lyle Lovett and His Large Band perform at 8:00 p.m. Saturday at Sunrise Musical Theatre, 5555 95th Ave, 741-7300. Tickets cost $22.75 and $25.75.

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