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Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys

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Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys - Fine, Fine, Superfine
Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – Fine, Fine, Superfine

Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – Fine, Fine, Superfine / Everytime

Ruby records {2016}
It’s the first release of a brand new label, Ruby records, launched by Ruby Ann and Tom Ingram and it comes in a beautifully designed sleeve. And what a better choice to lauch a label than Big Sandy? Even though it’s only a single and we desperately need a brand new album, it’s always good to have a new release by today’s finest purveyor of Rock’n’roll, the man with the velvet voice himself, Mister Big Sandy. Not to forget the Fly-Rite Boys who are Ashley Kingman on guitar (23 years or so of service), Kevin Stewart and newcomer Ricky McCann on drums.
It was a very good surprise to see that Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys had recorded this two sides at Wallyphonic studios with Wally Hersom at the console, like they did for their debut album.
The A side is “Fine, Fine, Superfine” a good rocking’ song with a solid beat. This is not Robert Williams’ most original song but it completely fulfills its goal: make you dance, shake your head and tape your feet. The flip is far more original and is pure Big Sandy. It’s got the same highly melodic hook than song like “How did you love someone like me”, it’s smooth but rocking in the same time. This is a kind of tune that shows why Robert Williams has no equivalent in term of songwriting today. And with a first rate band like the Fly-Rite Boys, it’s a killer.


Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – What A Dream it’s Been

big-sandy-what-a-dream-its-been
Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys -What A Dream It’s Been

Cow Island CIM022 [2013]
Baby Baby Me – This Ain’t a Good Time – Missouri Gal – Don’t Desert Me – Nothing To Lose – Glad When I’m Gone – Parts Unknown – You Mean Too Much To Me – I Know I’ve Loved You Before – Three Years Blind – If I Knew Now What I Knew Then – What a Dream It’s Been.

When an artist and a fine songwriter like Big Sandy breaks a silence of nearly seven years to release an album of “acoustic and newly arranged versions of old songs” one can reasonably have some fears. But fear not my friends; although it borrows a song from each of his records, -with the exception of the Jake’s Barbershop ep- “What a Dream It’s Been” is not just a quick re-recording of old favourites like it’s too often the case with that kind of project. The reason lies, in part, in the choice of the songs. Big Sandy has dug deep in his discography to select lesser known songs than the one available on the two best-of released by Hightone and Rockbeat for example. And musically it’s an adventurous thing which is more a prolongation of the recent albums than the summary of a career. Thus it sees the band expanding the range of its styles to bring early ska and rocksteady (Baby Baby Me, I know I loved you Before) to the mix as well as bluegrass (This Ain’t A Good Time, Will You Be Glad) with Ashley playing mandolin and Jeff West providing harmonies, Country Soul (Parts Unknown), Mexican tinged stuff ala Marty Robbins (Nothing To Loose) and a jazz duet with guest vocalist Grey Delisle (What A Dream It’s Been). Big Sandy’s voice has never sounded so good and deep, particularly when he’s only backed by a double bass (“Don’t Desert Me”) or a guitar (You Mean Too Much to Me) and the acoustic format reveals the beauty of his song writing. It also puts a new light on Kingman’s skills. His talent shines throughout the album and is in large part responsible of the success of that record.
In the end, what was supposed to be just a celebration of a 25 year career turns out to be a pivotal album in the band history as were “Jumpin’ from 6 to 6” in 1994 or “Night Tide” in 2000.


Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – Turntable Matinee

Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys - Turntable Matinee
Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – Turntable Matinee

Yep Roc – Yep 2121 [2006]
Power Of The 45 – Love That Man – The Great State Of Misery – Haunted Heels – Ruby Jane – Spanish Dagger – Mad – The Ones You Say You Love – You Don’t Know Me At All – Yes (I Feel Sorry For You) – Lonesome Dollar – Slippin’ Away – I Know I’ve Loved You Before – Power Of The 45 Pt. 2.

I became a Big Sandy fan from the moment the needle of my platter played Hot Water the opening song of Fly Rite With, their first album back in 1990.
In 2000, the dark mood of Nightide marked a turning point in Big Sandy’s recording journey and his songwriting. Having used the rockabilly and the western swing terminology and grammar for years, he freed his writing and went to a new level with no restrictions, creating more than re-creating.
After It’s Time in 2002, Turntable Matinee is a deeper step in that direction. Still built around western swing type of songs like Yes (I Feel Sorry For You) with Lee Jeffriess back behind the double neck steel guitar, it takes that genre further and brings on some of these songs a late 60’s feel (The Great State Of Misery). Straight rockin’ songs make a welcome return in Big Sandy’s set with Ruby Jane and the two parts of Power Of The 45 at the beginning and the end of the record, an ode to the band’s influences (Glen Glenn, Link Wray, Chuck Berry, Janis Martin, Etta James…). Between those two solid anchors you’ll find some latin / bossa nova (Spanish Dagger), a bluegrass inspired tune (Lonesome Dollar) and probably the biggest surprise: a Stax / Memphis soul masterpiece called Slippin’ Away with Cad Kadison on sax. And just when I was thinking Hey this is the first Fly-Rite Boys’ album without an instrumental tune came the hidden track, an instro version of Spanish Dagger. Finally it’s more than logical that after being produced by Dave Alvin for their first two albums as Fly-Rite Boys they now fit perfectly with the Blasters’ definition of American Music.
Since the Fly-Rite Trio days the line-up has seen some changed but that didn’t weaken the band and brought new blood and forced it to be more creative every time. The best example is bassist Jeff West who is now a key member of the band : he wrote three songs (and one of the most beautiful song ever sung by Big Sandy You Don’t Know Me At All) and sings two. The musicianship is, as usual, faultless from Ashley Kingman’s inventive guitar licks and his questions/answers with Lee Jeffriess (especially on Yes(I Feel Sorry For You) to Bobby Trimble subtle drumming (listen to I Know I’ve Loved You Before and pay attention to his brushwork). This album is going to be hard to top but I’ve already said that about It’s Time so I don’t worry that much.


 Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys – It’s Time

Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys - It's Time
Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys – It’s Time

Yep Roc, [2003]

”It’s time” follows the beautiful but dark and sad “NighTide”. The line remains unchanged except for Jimmie Roy (Ray Condo’s Ricochets) who replaces Lee Jeffriess on steel.
Entirely recorded live in the studio to capture the freshness of their first recordings, it’s also a much more varied album. You can find classic Rock’n’roll ala Elvis (Chalk It up To the Blues), followed by the Cajun inspired “Bayou Blue” with Chris Gaffney on accordion and there’s even a surfin’ instrumental written by Ashley Kingman (Strollin’ With Mary-Jane). Of course their usual brand of hillbilly bop/rockabilly is still present with songs like I Hate Loving You on which Jeff West voice blends perfectly with Big Sandy’s. He also takes lead on the jazzy Money Tree which makes you regret he doesn’t sing more. But Big Sandy remains the “real” singer of the band and the excellent “Night Is For the Dreamers” with its doo-wop atmosphere concludes the album in beauty.


Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – Night Tide

Hightone Records HCD 8123 [2000]
Night Tide – Between Darkness And Dawn – Tequila Calling – When Sleep Won’t Come (Blues For Spade) – If You Only Knew – Give Your Loving To Me – In The Steel Of The Night – A Man Like Me – Hey Lowdown! – My Time Will Come Someday – I Think Of You – Nothing To Lose – South Bay Stomp – Let Her Know

Released in 2000, Night Tide marked a turn in Big Sandy’s musical evolution.
Wally Hersom, former bass player of the band and the last remaining member of the Fly-Rite trio days, had left the group to be replaced by Jeff West (the Sun Demons.) West not only brought his bass, but he also came with his singing abilities, giving Big Sandy a second voice to play with, like a new instrument, hence the presence of harmony vocals on many of the songs.
It was also a change of mood. While previous albums featured dancing tunes and lighthearted lyrics (My Sinful days are over, The Loser’s Blues), Night Tide featured Robert Williams’ more introspective and dark songs. Songs like “When Sleep Won’t Come” written from the pint of view of Spade Cooley in jail, or “Nothing to Lose,” one of Williams’ saddest tune, are perfect examples of that direction. With these songs and others like the title track and Between Darkness And Dawn, Williams seems to throw off the limits of roots music and write songs without restraining himself.
And behind the Latin beat of” Tequila Calling,” one can hear the story of a man fighting with his demons. Even Lee Jeffriess, instrumental, which is usually danceable, is a slow and reflective number.
By comparison, ditties like “I Think of You” or “Give Your Loving” (penned by West) seem out of place and almost break the charm.
But the Fly-Rite Boys also stay true to their roots with rockin’ numbers like their cover of Cliff Bruner’s My Time Will Come Someday featuring Ashley Kingman in full Grady Martin mode as well as Hey Lowdown ( a stage favorite) and Let Her Know.


Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – Down at Jake’s Barbershop

Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys - Down at Jake's Barbershop
Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys – Down at Jake’s Barbershop

No-Hit records ‎– EP5
Down at Jake’s Barbershop – You’re No Fun – Fallin’ for You – Snake Dance Boogie

In 1992, steel player Lee Jeffriess joined Big Sandy and the Fly Rite Trio (Big Sandy, TK Smith, Wally Hersom and Bobby Trimble) that became Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys. Shortly after that, Smith left the band. The toured Europe with Malcolm Chapman (Carlos and the Bandidos) on guitar before Ashley Kingman (Red Hot’n’Blue) officially joined the band in early 1993.
In July of that year the new line-up recorded these four tracks at Wally’s studio for No-Hit Records.
These four songs are the missing link between the “On the Go” and “Jumpin’ From 6 to 6“. They show the transformation of a tight rockabilly combo into a western swing machine that will culminate with “Swingin’ West” and “Feelin’ Kinda Lucky.” Here the mood of the day is more hillbilly bop with two originals on side A and two covers, Link Davis’ Fallin for You that features Carl Sonny Leyland on piano and Roy Hogsed’s Snake Dance Boogie.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

https://www.bigsandy.net/

Stone River Boys (the)

in Reviews

The Stone River Boys – Love On The Dial

Stone River Boys

Cow Island CIM016 [2010]
Bluebonnet Blue – Can I Change My Mind – The Struggle – Think I’m Gonna Make It – Lovers Prison – 40 Acres – Love On The Dial – Still Feel The Feeling – Special – Take A Giant Step – Love’s Gonna Make It – Martha – Steel City – Boomerangs

The origin of the Stone River Boys can be traced back when Dave Gonzales teamed up with Mike Barfield (ex-Hollisters) to play some gigs in the memory of Chris Gafney, his friend, and partner in the Hacienda Brothers. It seems that both of them liked what they did together, and they decided to continue and go beyond the tribute thing.
Love On The Dial is their debut album released by the fine folks at Cow Island known for their impeccable taste.
Gonzales and Barfield have gathered a cast of some of the finest Austin musicians including Dave Biller (Wayne Hancock, Dale Watson and many more) on steel, Kevin Smith (High Noon, Dwight Yoakam, The Derailers) on bass, Scott Esbeck (Los Straitjackets), Hank Maninger (Hacienda Brothers, Johnny Dilks) and Damian Llanes (Nick Curran). The first two tracks are a blend of country soul, a style reminiscent of the Hacienda Brothers. As if the Stone River Boys would salute the memory of their friend one last time before moving onto their own thing. By the third song, Barfield’s “The Struggle,” they let their brand of country funk speaks. Imagine if James Brown had cut an album at Owen Bradley’s studio, the result wouldn’t be far from the Gonzales-Barfield partnership. There are many more country-funk gems like this on this album, mostly penned by Barfield, whose nickname is the tyrant of Texas funk! Try to get his solo albums too. His deep and rich voice also allows him to perform straight country numbers like the Bakersfield tinged “Lovers Prison.” “Steel City,” a Dave Biller’s instrumental rounds up this groovy album.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Lil Mo and the Monicats / Monica Passin

in Albums/Contemporary artists/IJKL/Reviews

Lil Mo and the Monicats - Whole Lotta Love
Lil Mo and the Monicats – Whole Lotta Love

Lil Mo and the Monicats – Whole Lotta Love

[2012]
Whole Lotta Love – Little Heart Attacks – When Girls Sings – Pain and Misery – Waiting and Wanting – Lovely Miranda – Three Cool Cats – Real Gone Jive – I Can’t Help Myself – Trouble In Mind – Too Much Time With Your Tears

Monica Passin (aka Lil Mo) and her deliciously sweet voice are back for another terrific album and, like on her previous recordings, she’s backed up by her partner in rhymes Hank Bones who plays a wide array of instrument (guitars and basses of all kinds, bongo, snare, cornet, dobro…). Another key element is Drina Seay who lends her voice to the beautiful harmonies you can hear on this album. This is really amazing how the voices of the two singers perfectly blend together! (so much that to be honest I first thought that Passin had doubled her vocal track). Russ Wilson completes the line-up.
The singer penned five originals and the remaining songs come from Marty Robbins (Pain and Misery), the Coasters (Three Cool Cats) and the Nettle Sisters (Real Gone Jive). One can also find a cover of Trouble in Mind (that is hard to associate to just one artist).The team Arty Hill and Linda Hill (who also wrote Mascara Tears for Marti Brom’s latest album) and Austin songwriter Terry Joyce have contributed one song each.
It is a very varied and rich album. Musically you cross the land, from the country to the town, from the Honky Tonk sound of Little Heart Attacks to the direct-from-the-Brill-building melody of When Girls Sing (with reference to Ellie Greenwich in the lyrics) and Too Much Time With Your Tears. There’s also some Texas hillbilly swing with I Can’t Help Myself, Hillbilly bop and Rockabilly with Real Gone Jive and the Everly Brothers/Buddy Holly influence can be heard on Whole Lotta Lovin and Waiting and Wanting. Lovely Miranda and its Latin beat tells a little slice of life settled in New York. That’s funny how simple but well crafted lyrics can create pictures in your head.
I love this album so I wouldn’t mind writing more but Bill Kirchen has said it better than me on his introduction: “Monica is a rare triple threat, a chanteuse who can rock and write songs that you swear you grew up with.” I couldn’t agree more.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis


Lil Mo and the Monicats - On the Moon
Lil Mo and the Monicats – On the Moon

Lil Mo and the Monicats – On the Moon

Cow Island Music CIM013 [2009]
I Could Get Used To This – Rockin’ Chair On The Moon – The Boy Who Loves The Blues – Dance Crazed – Why Don’t You Love Me? – Baby Be Good – I Really Love (To Love You) – I’m Here Today – I’ve Got A New Heartache – He’s A Handful – Dreamy

10 years after “Hearts In My Dreams” which is a bit too long for me but I guess this time was necessary to make such a rich and accomplished album and write this perfect songs (9 of the 11 are from Lil Mo’s pen), Monica Passin released On the Moon.
And the good folks at Cow Island with their soon to be legendary good taste didn’t miss the chance to release it on a superb digipack.
The outcome is a very versatile album and perfectly backed by the multi talented Hank Bones (drums, basses, guitar, dobro, steel, piano, cornet…), Lil’ Mo offer a journey through American music from the 30’s to the 60’s.
You find timeless Honky Tonk (I Could Get Used To This and Wayne Walker’s I’ve Got A New Heartache), muscled hillbilly with a rockabilly hint on Bill Haley and The Saddlemen’s Rockin Chair On the Moon and He’s a Handful on which Monica’s voice reminds me of the best sides of Rosie Flores.
Lil Mo (aka Monica Passin) also delivers a poignant appalachian ballad (the Boy Who Loves The Blues with a nice mandolin part and a heartbreaking fiddle) and good ol’ Cajun music with Dance Crazed featuring Steve Riley of the Mamou Playboys fame. Why Don’t You Live With Me is a beautiful pre-war blues with dobro and cornet. Fans of rhythm’n’ blues/soul will rush on Baby Be Good (with a horn section) and those who are in a 60’s mood will be delighted by I’m Here Today that features an amazing organ solo. Another highlight (but which song isn’t?) is I Really Love To Love You a Spector styled pop song (still with Hank Bones in charge of the wall of sound). And what a better way to say goodbye than Dreamy, an acoustic ballad, featuring just Monica’s crystal clear voice and Bones on guitar with some latin and jazzy echoes.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Starline Rhythm Boys

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews

starlinerhythmboys_liveThe Starline Rhythm Boys – Live At Charlie-O’s

Cow Island CIM011 [2008]
Yellow Jacket / A Dime At A Time / Heartbreak Tennessee / Charlie-O’s / On The Back Row / Life Begins At 4 O’Clock / Wine Me Up / Lonesome On’ry And Mean / Pipeliner Blues / You’re Still On My Mind / One Foot In The Honky Tonk / She Don’t Live Here No More / Dark Hollow / Live And Let Live / Get A Little Goner / Drunk Tank / Playboy / You Can’t Catch Me / That’s Where I Went Wrong / I’m A Lonesome Fugitive / Gotta Travel On / Too Much Fun / Drink Up And Go Home.

The Starline Rhythm Boys – Masquerade For A Heartache

starlienrhythm boys masqueradeCow Island CIM014 [2009]
Masquerade For Heartache / Jive After Five / Trucker From Tennessee / Workin’ Man Blues / Honky Tonk Gal / Red’s Place / A Mess Of Blues / Goodbye Train / I’m Fed Up Drinking Here / Ubangi Stomp

Here’s the cure to the stress of your everyday life and your summertime blues: the hot rockin’ honky tonk swing style of a Starline Rhythm Boys show in your living room! Recorded live at their homebase of Charlie-O’s bar, it features a typical set of the trio mixing classics from Johnny Paycheck, Wayne Walker, Conway Twitty, Faron Young, Chuck Berry, Bill Kirchen… with a couple of band’s own (She Don’t Live Here, Drunk Tank, That’s Where I Went Wrong). Add the presence of Sean Mencher (High Noon) to produce an play second guitar on one track as well as Kevin Maul on steel (both lap and pedal) and you just have to put the cd in the player and let the fun begins.

Masquerade For A Heartache is the perfect companion to Charlie-O’s with 10 more tracks recorded during the same show. Once again it’s very well balanced between originals (Masquerade…, Red’s Place, I’m Fed Up Drinking Here) and covers of Carl Perkins, Merle Haggard, Elvis. This mini album goes from straight Honky Tonk to Rock’n’roll with a good dose of Rockabilly including one of the best version of Ubangi Stomp I’ve ever had the chance to listen to!

You can buy them separately but do yourself a favor and buy both.


the Starline Rhythm Boys - Red's Place
the Starline Rhythm Boys – Red’s Place

The Starline Rhythm Boys – Red’s Place

Cow Island Music CIM05
A Fighting Chance – No Gal Cooks Like Mine – Red’s Place – It’s Anyone’s Guess – (They’re) Cutting Back the Work Force – That’s Just A Thought – The Joke’s On You – Who – The Family Farm – Drunk Tank – Sin & Salvation – Burning A Hole In My Mind – The Old Filling Station – That’s Where I Went Wrong – I’m Fed Up Drinking Here – A Memory of Fred

The Starline Rhythm Boys are a drummerless trio (Danny Coane, acoustic guitar; “Big Al” Lemery, electric guitar; and Billy Bratcher, doghouse bass) that plays in the same league as High Noon (no wonder to find Sean Mencher on the production seat) and Wayne “The Train” Hancock (Billy Bratcher toured with him by the way). But they don’t stick to the trio format and bring a couple of guests to keep things varied and surprising, and most of all highly enjoyable.
Most of the songs are originals written by Bratcher.”A Fighting Chance” is a powerfull slap bass led hillbilly/proto rockabilly (what a guitar too) with harmony vocals. “No Gal Cooks Like Mine” features a fiddle in addition to the steel and praises the simple domestic joys. The title track has more of a late 50’s honky tonk feel with a bit of Buck Owens in it, still with great harmonies, and a superb piano part. Big Al Lemery is not only a wizard on the telecaster, he’s also a poignant singer and proves it on “It’s Anyone’s Guess” a slow number in the vein of “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” with mandolin, fiddle, light snare and pedal steel. “They’re Cutting Back The Work Force” shows once again what a good songwriter Billy Bratcher is, able to write about booze or social issues ( I Got Kids to feed, but there’s no remorse, once they start cutting the work force“) with equal success. “That’s Just A Thought” is a beautiful little hillbilly bop ditty that looks toward the western swing side of things with each members of the horn section taking solos. They turn Jimmy martin’s bluegrass number “The Joke’s On You” into a uptempo rockabilly. Another cover is Little Walter’s “Who“, which becomes a “hillbilly-blues” (and reminds what High Noon did with “Crazy Mixed Up World” on their Texas Style 10″). “Family Farm” is a sad and beautiful waltz with bluegrass accents. Al Lemery wrote and sings “Drunk Tank” a nice hillbilly bop. The honky Tonk “Sin & Salvation“, on a well known theme, is another proof they never falls into facility. They bring modulation and unusual chords. Man that’s good ! Connie Smith’s “Burning A Hole InMy Mind” adds a welcome touch of 60’s country music.On “The Old Filling Station” with simple words (and a beautiful melody) Bratcher paints a melancholic picture (Do you remember when you never pumped your gas/And the man with the Star was a symbol of class). I really enjoyed “I’m Fed Up Drinking Here“, the best song George Jones never recorded. How can’t you love a band that plays right and sings “The Old Juke box that I leaned on/Was a rock for life’s hard knock but now it’s gone/When a man’s mind ain’t clear/ a lack of George Jones is severe“. The set ends with a sincere hommage to a friend of them, Fred, and you can feel both the love they have for him and the personnality of the man, even if you never met him.
Authenticity is not only a matter of music, it’s above all a state of mind. And this guys play genuine country music that speaks to your heart and your feet.
Thank you for that Boys !

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Arty Hill & the Long Gone Daddys

in Albums/Contemporary artists/GH/Reviews

Arty Hill
Arty Hill – Back on the Rail

Arty Hill & the Long Gone Daddys – Back on the rail

Cow Island Music CIM12 {2005}
Living on the Road Again – Jackson Shake – Me & My Glass Jaw – Big Daddy’s Rye – I Left Highlandtown – Based on Real Life – It Ain’t Working – Drifting In – Back On The Rail – I Ate Through the Jail -Tammerlane – When The Sparks Come Falling Down

First issued in 2005, Arty Hill’s debut album is now reissued by the fine folks at Cow Island, and it’s a nice addition to their catalog that already counts The Starline Rhythm Boys, The Dixons, Nate Gibson, Lil Mo in their rank.
On this entirely self-penned album, this three piece band (accoustic rhythm guitar, twangy lead guitar and drums) mixes with success straight Honky Tonk (Me & My Glass Jaw, Drifting In), uptembo numbers with a good dose of rockabilly (Big Daddy Ryes, It Ain’t Working and I Ate Through The Jail based upon a Scotty Moore kind of guitar lick.), and country ballads with solid and intelligent lyrics.
Musically, they are a very cohesive trio : Arty has the perfect voice for that kind of stuff that reminds me a bit of Cam Wagner from Jimmy Roy’s Five Stars Hillbillies (by the way what happened to Cam?). Dave Chappell’s telecaster embellishes the tracks with tasty licks, his guitar talks, answers to Arty, makes you cry, man ! this piece of wood is alive. Last but not least, Craig Stevens. There’s no need of flashy drumming for this kind of music, Craig’s style is spare but efficient and fits completely with the rest.
This is what country music should be : real music by real people for real folks.
Available here.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis


Arty Hill - Montgomery on my Mind
Arty Hill – Montgomery on my Mind

Arty Hill & the Long Gone Daddys – Montgomery On My Mind

Cow Island CIM015 {2009}
Church On Saturday Night – Pan American – I Can’t Help It – I’m A Long Gone Daddy – Don’s Bop – Lovesick Blues – Take This Chains From My Heart – Montgomery On My Mind

Coming from Cow Island your finest purveyor of today’s true country music and Arty Hill comes this tribute to one of the greatest songwriter of all times: Hank Williams. And one couldn’t imagine a better band to do this than the one called the Long Done Daddies, don’t you think?
The good thing is that they never try to recreate Hank’s sound. They play Williams songs their own way. “Pan American” is driven by a hot fiddle (played by guest Patrick McAvinue) echoed by a solid dobro, for a very “bluegrassy” result. Their take on “Lovesick Blues” is in the same vein, almost all acoustic.
I couldn’t believe you could bring something to the near perfection of “I Can’t Help It”. But Arty Hill did, and as incredible as it may sound, it seems evident. They muscle “I’m A Long Gone Daddy” and turn it into a rockin’ number. More surprising (but a good surprise), they apply the same treatment to “Take These Chains From My Heart”.
Another proof of their talent is the three originals they wrote that perfectly blend with Williams’ songs. “Church On Saturday Night” is a tribute to the glorious days of Country Music and the Grand Ole Opry. With lyrics like “Now they can take the Opry / Make it slick and loud / slap it on a T-shirt and sell it to the crowd / but that don’t make Country” you’re sure that this culture is in good hands (and I bet Dale Watson would have loved to write such lyrics).
“Montgomery On My Mind” is a beautiful love songs that takes place in Montgomery, hometown of Williams and “Don’s Bop” is an instrumental tribute to Don Helms, steel guitar player in the Drifting Cowboys.
Hank would sure be very proud.
Available here.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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