I've mentioned how residency in FAME has rounded out my musical tastes in a fashion I'd previously not dared hope for, and this has certain factors in old progrock, neoclassical, and avant-garde venues I scribed for howling for my blood and bones (skinny, in both cases), but, hey, music is music. If it has heart and art, secondary problems must lie in the listener, not the sonorities. After all, look at Jerry Garcia and others who held omnivorous appetites and all the cool stuff that flowed from that. Still, I'm a crit, not a muso, but any aesthete should be open to all art, prepared to expand and evolve, though I must say I never expected what eventuated in my own case. Yet, why this should be so is simple, really, and it's precisely CDs like this one, a letter-perfect example of a genre too often misrepresented in other less perspicacious hands.
The Lucky Tomblin Band, in Honky-Tonk Merry Go Round, their 4th release, lays down a swing/country/bootscootin' sound so perfect it compares easily with the best: Asleep at the Wheel, Dan Hicks, Commander Cody, and such, whereas the mood and feel of everything also indicate a generous infusion of Ray Price. Though I must admit that the Asleep crew is pretty much the zenith, even Ray Benson & Co. would be sweating were the Tomblin folks to open for 'em on any given tour date. In fact, I'm rather surprised this disc is merely their fourth, 'cause the level of marrow-deep professionalism indicates that a catalog of a dozen titles wouldn't be at all unexpected. Part of the reason goes to the configuration (six top-flight players behind vocalist Tomblin) but the rest of it must be ascribed to the fact that these cowpokes and cowpokettes (and bassist Sarah Brown has a classic country voice as well as nimble fingers) know their chops from soup to nuts.
Not a cut lacks irresistible swing, even the ballads like It Makes No Difference Now, and the selection of songs is mouth-watering. Hell, the titles alone (Get a Little Goner, She Loves Anything that Swings, I'll Go Down Swinging, Willie Nelson's I'd Rather You Didn't Love Me, and etc.) indicate a good deal more than so much of the brainless yay-hoo music one hears on most country radio. Tomblin can embody the lonesome crooner or the working stiff kicking his heels up after a long week, either of them without missing a click. The band, as well, just drips with authenticity and precision, so much so that one of the best players around, Lloyd Maines, not only dropped in, guitar in tow, but also produced the CD. So, feeling a need for a good honest down-home jamboree and a bit of a cry in your beer session? Here 'tis, brothers and sisters, here 'tis…and bring your dancing shoes.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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