I think my favorite guy in the Lucky Tomblin Band is drummer Jon Hahn, who bemoans his fate on the DVD side of this package. "Stuck" in a band of musician after musician of stature, he is introduced last at live shows as "age 42", or so he says on the DVD, The Making of 'Red Hot From Blue Rock', after seemingly unending credits for the others. I understand, though it makes me laugh, because Tomblin pulled together a stable of some of the best country music (and blues) has to offer. Tomblin himself is no slouch, having performed for years, even opening for Doug Sahm on his fabled Last Real Texas Blues Band tour. Lined up behind him are Earl Poole Ball (or as Bobby Arnold introduces him on I'll Keep On Loving You, Urrrll Poooole Baaawwwll), who spent time or played with Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, Buck Owens and The Byrds, to name a few; Redd Volkaert (Merle Haggard, Dale Watson, Ray Price); John X. Reed (Doug Sahm, Marcia Ball and Lucinda Williams); Sarah Brown, who makes mention of having to adjust from the blues to country (Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Dr. John and Billy Bragg); Bobby Arnold, previously most noted for his engineering skills (Neil Young, Willie Nelson and Townes Van Zandt, to name a few); and the aforementioned Hahn, who would prefer to remain unmentioned, I suppose. The DVD is full of shots of the studio work as well as the occasional short interview and not only do you get to see them in action, the musicians fill you in on working in that specific studio, working with some of the more famous and playing the Broken Spoke, which Volkaert apparently loves, as he only has to provide 'stock leads', something obviously second-nature to him. As an aside, let me say that watching Volkaert work his magic on the guitar with fists the size of small hams is worth the price of this disc alone.
The DVD, along with showing the actual studio sessions, has scenes of the studio and its environs (outside and inside), with short interviews of producer Casper Rawls, engineer Keith Gary and studio manager Denise Boudreaux.
The music itself is a slew of country classics, some well-known, others not so much, as well as two originals provided by Sarah Brown. The cool thing is that each musician is provided a chance to shine. Well, except for Hahn, who is evidently 42. I'm kidding. Even Hahn acquits himself nicely, laying down a great rhythm track next to Brown—well technically they were in separate rooms, but you understand.
You want, straight country, boogie woogie, swing, it's all here and done very, very well. And every voice is form fit to the song. Bobby Arnold's debut as singer on the Floyd Tillman classic I'll Keep On Loving You is an excellent example. The presentation is Bob Wills-like, Arnold's deep satin-textured voice calling solos like a pro (hey, they even built a special little hut for Arnold to vocalize on--- I want one!). The bluesy Sundown Blues showcases John X. Reed's even deeper Tex Beneke-sounding vox, a perfect alter-sound to the jazzy guitars and piano. Redd Volkaert gets a shot at the Hank Williams hit written by one Rose Nelson, Setting the Woods On Fire and makes the best of it. Sarah Brown crosses into country with two of her songs and handles it very well indeed. And Urrrll Poooole Baaawwll's treatment of Play One More Song hits the nail, so to speak, et cetera. Lucky Tomblin? His gal is Red Hot and when you see him smile, you understand why they call him Lucky.
Buying a CD of this quality is always good, but when you throw in the DVD, a whole new world opens up. Seeing these guys up close and personal makes you understand why stars like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, et cetera, signed these guys on. And the DVD will have you heading for Wimberley, Texas. It's downright beautiful down there.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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