A quirky, cosmopolitan gentleman with his trademark high-rise hair, Lyle Lovett has been a consummate craftsman for so long that it's easy to forget his enduring eccentricities. Though he scored country hits with his 1986 eponymous debut and its 1988 follow-up, Pontiac, Lovett has never been a true country artist. Drawing on Randy Newman's literate wordplay and Jesse Winchester's wry, slightly imbalanced observations, Lovett crosses the battered romanticism of Leonard Cohen with the loosey-goosey swing of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. The result is a relaxed, sophisticated and multi-layered mix of gospel, folk, big band and tin pan alley that can dip into galloping bluegrass or noirish jazz at any moment. With everyone nowadays jumping on the country string bandwagon, Lovett is touring with his Acoustic Group, showing all those upstart Mumfords how it's really done. Building on bluegrass, which Lovett calls "the dark side of country," the current ensemble can turn on a shiny dime from freewheeling fiddle-led stomps to Django Reinhardt-styled hot club jazz. Yet, there's still something endearingly odd about Lovett's soaring, slightly raspy and neurotic vocals, even after all these years. $29.50-$74.50. May 6, 7:30 p.m. Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. 704-372-1000.