Honky Tonk - Page 2

Charlie Thompson

Charlie Thompson
Charlie Thompson – The Foothill Sessions

Charlie Thompson – The Foothill Sessions

Fairlane Records FCD001 [2015]
Going Like Wildfire – The Automobile Song – A Blue Million Tears – Boogie Blues – We’re Buggin’ Out – I Don’t Care – Let Me Love You Just A Little – So Long – You Tried to Ruin My Name – Ain’t Never Gonna Get Married Again – (We’ve Reached) The Beginning Of the End – I Miss You Already

Beautiful as a Faron Young ep on Capitol (perfectly designed by Chris Wilkinson of the Bonneville Barons and the Zazou Cowboys), here comes Charlie Thompson’s latest output. I believed this one had been recorded a while ago as I heard of these sessions from years now (which makes me feel less guilty for my belated review). It’s also a proof that Charlie didn’t want to release it until he finds it perfect and boy, IT IS PERFECT.
Helped by what could be best described as a dream team of musicians (Jeremy Wakefield on steel, Wally Hersom on bass, Dave Stuckey on rhythm guitar, drums and harmony, Carl Sonny Leyland on piano, TK Smith on guitar and Bobby Furgo on fiddle) and recorded by Wally Hersom at his Wallyphonic studio this platter not only looks but also sounds as if it came straight from the 50’s, a period when country music and honky tonky tonk still meant something.
To put it frankly, this is the best album of traditional country music I’ve heard in ages. Actually I can’t even remember having heard such a good mid-50’s honky tonk album played by a modern artist before. The songs choice (coming from the catalogues of Luke McDaniel, Carl Peterson, Webb Pierce, Jim Reeves, Moon Mullican, Pee Wee King and so on) is also very good mixing slow numbers with more rollicking and swinging stuff (it must be hard to resist with a band like this). And of course there’s Charlie’s voice, sounding like Faron Young, Dave Rich and Marty Robbins all rolled into one but in the same time sounding like none other than Charlie Thompson.
If by now you are not taken by a compelling need to buy it, we both have a problem: me as a reviewer and you with your musical tastes.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Ernest Tubb – Thirty Days (Gonna Shake this Shack Tonight)

Ernest Tubb - Thirty Days
Ernest Tubb – Thirty Days

Bear Family BCD 16866
Thirty Days / I’m A Long Gone Daddy / Mean Mama Blues / Jimmie Rodgers’ Last Blue Yodel / Walking The Floor Over You / I Ain’t Goin’ Honky Tonkin’ Anymore / Filipino Baby / So Round So Firm So Fully Packed / My Tennessee Baby / You Nearly Lose Your Mind / Tomorrow Never Comes / Tennessee Border #2 / Drivin’ Nails In My Coffin / So Doggone Lonesome / Let’s Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello / Don’t Forbid Me / Don’t Brush Them On Me / The Same Thing As Me / Counterfeit Kisses / Two Glasses Joe / Kansas City Blues / Have You Seen My Boogie Woogie Baby / This Troubled Mind O’Mine / My Hillbilly Baby / I’ll Get Along Somehow / Do It Now / Mister Blues / White Silver Sands / Crazy Arms / Tennessee Saturday Night.

Bear Family has released numerous boxed sets covering the whole career of the Texas Troubadour and I dream about them at least once a month but it may be a bit too much or too pricey (or both) for the casual listener. Fortunately, they have launched the “Gonna Shake This Shack” serie which is more affordable. This release gives a good overview on Tubb’s recording from the early 40’s to the early 60’s and focuses on his uptempo sides.
The selection is very well done and you won’t find any filler here. This album includes some Jimmie Rodgers (his first idol) inspired songs (Mean Mama Blues), his early hits (Walking the Floor Over You; You Nearly Loose Your Mind), honky tonk classics and succesfull attempst at mixing rock’n’roll to his own style (Chuck Berry’s Thirty Days). Listening to this side you realize the major role of Tubb in setting the standard for post-war country, instrumentation (electric guitar, steel guitar, fiddle, bass, rhythm guitar) that’ll pave the way to Hank Williams to name the most famous.
Needless to say that as usual with the German label it comes with a superbly designed and fully illustrated 32 page booklet that tells you all the details you want to know (and even more). A nice addition to your collection.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The B-Stars



the B-Stars - Behind the Barn With
the B-Stars – Behind the Barn With

The B-Stars – Behind the Barn With

Rust Belt Recordings – RR004
Ink Free Baby Of Mine – Drunk On Whiskey – Duckin And Dodgin – Texas Boogie – Left It All Behind – Women And Wine – Pretty Baby – Back Up Buddy – Sweet Little Things – Walking Home Alone – Trouble Free State Of Mine – Broken Down And Blue

A particularly strong debut for the San Fransisco based combo. This five piece band (Greg Yanito – guitar and vocals; Eric Reedy – string bass and vocals; Bill McKenna – electric guitar; Mikiya Matsuda – steel guitar; Billy Zelinski – drums) rips through a set a good ol’ country music. Both Yanito and Reedy sing and compose – and they know how to write songs that sound like little classics – which also keeps the set varied. You’ll only find two covers, Gene O’Quinn’s Texas Boogie and Carl Smith’s Back Up Buddy, Smith being an obvious influence on the band.
Carl Sonny Leyland sits in and plays piano on four tracks adding a good dose of country boogie and even rock’n’roll (Pretty Baby) to the mix. There’s also some country swing (Duckin’ and Dodgin’), a bit of Bakersfield (Women and WIne, Sweet Little Things) and a superb Hank Williams influenced number (Trouble Free State Of Mind).
It is tastefully produced by Lee Jeffriess and you can hear his touch on some steel guitar/guitar arrangements reminiscent of his work with Ashley Kingman in the Fly Rite Boys.
If Carl Smith, Hank Williams, Merrill Moore, Wayne Hancock, Big Sandy are sweet words to your ears, be sure to add the B-Stars to your list. And it’s not only a pleasure for your ears, but also for the eyes as it comes in a nicely designed digipack.

More infos at http://thebstars.com/

The B-Stars - West Coast Special
The B-Stars – West Coast Special

The B-Stars – West Coast Special

Rust Belt [2012]
Careful Baby – Still Waiting – King Of Fools – My Window Faces The South – Another One Tomorrow – Time Is Money – When The Darkness Turns To Light – Chicken Fried – One More Beer – Revolution 45 – No Work Blues – Honky Tonkin’ Rhythm
San Francisco based honky tonk/hillbilly swing band the B-Stars have seen some changes since their debut album. They return with a refurbished line-up and a new platter full of hillbilly rhythms. They remain true to their main inspirations, saying Honky Tonk heroes of the 50’s and early 60’s (from Hank Williams to Carl Smith) but they also add a good dose of western swing to their set. It generally works pretty though I’m a little less convinced by their cover of My Window Faces the South. Whether it’s the production or the arrangement, it sounds a bit too “modern” for my tastes and closer to Asleep At The Wheel than Bob Wills. But that’s a minor flaw and they have a majority of solid originals and the musicianship is trong, one of the best exemple being the interplay between the guitar and the steel on Still Waitin.
Available on 10″ vinyl and cd.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Arty Hill & the Long Gone Daddys

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