Ernie Thacker has a classic country / bluegrass voice and has mastered the playing to match, alongside a band polished up to put the spitshine on his back roads glow. With just a guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, and guest fiddle—no percussion, no horns, no further sessioneers—they put out a sound as clear as a mountain spring and as pure as the afternoon breeze moving over amber wheatfields. Of course, these gents can also pick the unliving bejeezus out of them thar instruments when the urge strikes, as on Dwight Yoakum's This Drinkin' Will Kill Me, with its insane banjo and fiddle flights.
Naturally, you get the standard lower-middle-class divorce ditty (Friday Once Again), the kind of thing that normally turns me away from country and its too often maudlin refrains, but these guys have the magic to put a gentle little kick in the kitsch and make me listen. Then The Hangman pops up and brings around a great Outlaws tang, bluegrass veering into rock terrain ever so subtly, a classic tale of law and justice. Pickin' Up the Pieces carries the trademark bluegrass yelp and knocks into a jig, mandolin skirling like a june bug, and Rollin' on These Rubber Wheels carries it further over, making me reach for the corn likker jug and a handful of pickled pig's trotters.
Now, if you find yourself needing a great morning-after song following on a hangover and three-day five o'clock shadow, catch their take on Kristofferson's Sunday Morning Coming Down and its hilarious verses:
I woke up Sunday Morning
…intermixed with humbler sentiments and the yearning for the naive innocence of religion and small towns (something we've "lost along the way"), then Ernie Thacker's rendition will have you finding all the loose ends right quick, brothers and sisters.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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