Ter­rell’s Tune-Up

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - Slin­gin’

New coun­try mu­sic al­bums

I’ve said it be­fore: If you think they ain’t mak­ing coun­try mu­sic like they used to, you’re just not look­ing hard enough. You won’t find much of it on so-called “coun­try” ra­dio, but it’s out there. This week I look at a bunch of re­cent coun­try al­bums I’ve been play­ing the holy heck out of on KSFR’s The

Santa Fe Opry (101.1 FM, Fri­days 10 p.m.-mid­night) in re­cent weeks. ▼ Slin­gin’ Rhythm by Wayne Han­cock. Wayne the Train is back with a fist­ful of mostly orig­i­nal, good, solid honky-tonkin’ songs with lyrics full of wicked wit and heartache — of­ten in the same song — and lots of im­pres­sive pick­ing. Han­cock’s got a new band, in­clud­ing an im­pres­sive new steel gui­tarist, Rose Sin­clair, and not one but two elec­tric gui­tarists, Bart Wein­burg and Greg Harkins. As usual, Han­cock gives his band­mates plenty of room to stretch, while their pro­ducer, Lub­bock string-ti­tan Lloyd Maines, cap­tures the sound that some call retro, but I call time­less.

Things fall­ing apart seem to be a gen­eral theme here with tunes like “Dirty House Blues,” “Two String Boo­gie,” and “Wear Out Your Wel­come,” about a love that’s dis­in­te­grated.

My im­me­di­ate fa­vorite song on is a brand new mur­der bal­lad — ac­tu­ally, a dou­ble-homi­cide fan­tasy — in the great tra­di­tion of Leon Ash­ley’s “Laura (What’s He Got That I Ain’t Got),” Porter Wagoner’s “The Cold Hard Facts of Life,” and Johnny Pay­check’s “(Par­don Me) I’ve Got Some­one to Kill.” Han­cock’s song is called “Killed Them Both,” and that’s just what he does to his cheat­ing sweet­heart and some funky dude. Han­cock sings, “Some­body heard the shots and called 911/The law’s out­side to ruin all my fun …” Now that’s what I call coun­try mu­sic! Learn more about Wayne the Train at www.blood­shotrecords. com/artist/wayne-han­cock. ▼ Live at the Big T Road­house, Chicken S#!+ Bingo Sun­day and Un­der the In­flu­ence by Dale Wat­son. Dale Wat­son may be the hard­est work­ing honky­tonker in Texas. He’s known to play gigs with­out tak­ing a sin­gle break. He even works hol­i­days. I saw him play the Con­ti­nen­tal Club in Austin last Christ­mas — and he’s sched­uled to play there on Thanks­giv­ing this month. Wat­son al­ways seems to have a new al­bum. In fact, he’s re­leased not one but two in re­cent weeks. One al­bum is a live show from his fa­vorite Hed­wig, Texas, haunt, known for bingo games that use live poul­try in­stead of balls to de­ter­mine the num­bers be­ing called. The other is an al­bum full of cover songs made fa­mous by the mu­si­cians who most in­flu­enced him.

Big T Road­house fea­tures a bunch of old Wat­son tunes, in­clud­ing ought-to-be clas­sics like “I Lie When I Drink,” “Where Do You Want It” (an ode to Billy Joe Shaver’s in­fa­mous shoot­ing in­ci­dent), and one of his best trucker songs, “Birm­ing­ham Break­down.” There area cou­ple of Merle Hag­gard fa­vorites, “The Bot­tle Let Me Down” and “The Fugi­tive,” plus my per­sonal fa­vorite here, a spir­ited cover of Jerry Reed’s “Amos Moses.”

And speak­ing of cov­ers, Un­der the In­flu­ence is a true treat. Wat­son per­forms Bob Wills’ “That’s What I Like About the South,” Buck Owens’ “Made in Ja­pan,” and two rel­a­tive Hag­gard ob­scu­ri­ties: “Here in Frisco” and “If You Want to Be My Woman.” My fa­vorites are Wat­son’s ver­sion of “You’re Hum­bug­gin’ Me,” a clas­sic recorded by Lefty Frizzell, Rocket Mor­gan, Ron­nie Dawson, and oth­ers, and Danny Dill’s “Long Black Veil.” That’s a well-worn chest­nut first made fa­mous by Frizzell. But Dale’s treat­ment is unique. He ac­tu­ally makes this ghostly mur­der story swing. Speak­ing of which, swing on over to Dale Wat­son’s web­site at www.dale­wat­son.com. ▼ Swim­min’ Pools, Movie Stars … by Dwight Yoakam. Yoakam un­doubt­edly was the best-known neo­honky-tonker of the 1980s. Though he’s dab­bled in blue­grass be­fore, this is Ken­tucky-born Yoakam’s first all-blue­grass al­bum. All the songs are new acous­tic ver­sions of old Yoakam orig­i­nals, in­clud­ing the ti­tle song of his first al­bum, “Guitars, Cadil­lacs,” re­fit­ted with fid­dles and ban­jos. All but one, that is. The al­bum ends with Prince’s “Purple Rain.” And while a lot of peo­ple chuckle at the thought of a blue­grass ren­di­tion of Prince, this is noth­ing to snicker at. Yoakam kills it. With­out a trace of irony he finds the soul of the song and makes it into the per­fect hill­billy trib­ute to the as­cended mas­ter from Min­neapo­lis. Dig Dwight at www. dwightyoakam.com. ▼ South­ern White Lies by Martha Fields. She has roots in Texas and Ok­la­homa, though these days Fields is liv­ing part-time in Bordeaux, France. But just be­cause she’s across the ocean doesn’t mean she’s for­got­ten her mu­si­cal roots. Last year, with a band of French­men called House of Twang, she re­leased an al­bum full of rock­ing coun­try boo­gie called Long Way From

Home. But while that one was fun, her new acous­tic banjo- and do­bro-driven record is much deeper and hits much harder.

With a strong, throaty voice, Fields sings about her South­ern her­itage with stark hon­esty. A ma­jor theme run­ning through sev­eral songs on South­ern

White Lies is how poor, ru­ral peo­ple are ma­nip­u­lated by politi­cians and big busi­ness to keep them poor and ig­no­rant for the sake of keep­ing up the sup­ply of cheap la­bor and sol­diers for wars. There’s a real cur­rent of right­eous anger run­ning through many of these songs. Fields sums it up in “Amer­i­can Holo­gram,” singing, “No pot to piss in, be­lieve in that trickle down/Snake han­dlers and TV tellin’ ‘em it’s for the best ... No need for ed­u­ca­tion, no money for schools/Eas­ier for Lim­baugh, to play ‘em like the fool.”

A taste­ful hand­ful of cov­ers like Woody Guthrie’s “Lone­some Road Blues” — bet­ter known as “Go­ing Down That Road Feelin’ Bad” — and Ja­nis Jo­plin’s “What Good Can Drinkin’ Do” adds a lit­tle lev­ity to the al­bum. “Pan­der­ing politi­cians, we need more mu­si­cians,” Fields sings in the ti­tle song. There’s a po­lit­i­cal slo­gan I can get be­hind. Visit www .tex­as­martha.com.

Wayne Han­cock gives his band­mates plenty of room to stretch, while their pro­ducer, Lub­bock string-ti­tan Lloyd Maines, cap­tures the sound that some call retro, but I call time­less.

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