If Pirates of the Mississippi, the fledgling country-rock quintet that performed at Zed Restaurant in Alexandria last night, makes it big in a hurry, it won't be because the band is taking a new tack. On the contrary, combine a little Hank Williams (both father and son) with some guitar instrumentals heavily influenced by the Allman Brothers and songs like "Redneck Rock 'n' Roll," and you have a good idea where the band is headed.

More ragtag than rowdy onstage, the group has three things going for it: lead singer Bill McCorvey, who has a grainy, expressive voice and an easy way with ballads that suggests a younger Guy Clark; a neatly woven blend of pedal steel and electric guitars; and a real sense of what younger, rock-bred country fans want to hear. No honky-tonk band, after all, was ever tossed out of a bar for singing the praises of the working man, and as long as there's a Nashville, it's a safe bet that "Feed Jake," the tale of a man's undying gratitude to his dog, will draw the kind of cheers it did last night. But it will be a while, it seems, before the band has something distinctive to offer.