It’s pretty common for pop stars to begin dabbling in the visual arts when they hit middle age, but how often do respected visual artists start writing songs after they turn 50?

That’s exactly what happened in 2000 with local sculptor Ken Little. Over the last nine years, Little — in collaboration with his jazz-pianist brother Mark — has penned a formidable collection of smart, sardonic material, and the results can be heard on Simple America, the new CD credited to Little and his band, Rodeo HoHo.

Between songs dedicated to his mom and two brothers, Little finds time to dissect post-World War II America (“Baby Boom”) and honor Houston’s Art Guys, Michael Galbraith, and Jack Massing (“Art Snot”). Imagine Bob Wills (an Amarillo neighbor of Little’s family in the 1950s) and his Texas Playboys covering songs by Loudon Wainwright III, and you’ll get a sense of where Little’s coming from.

“I’ve used the music as a foil, to not take the visual art so seriously,” Little says. “I can’t imagine doing one without the other at this point.”

Little will celebrate the release of his CD on Thursday, July 2 (8:30 p.m.), and Friday, July 3 (6 p.m.), at Blue Star Contemporary Art Center.

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