Updated Tue, Mar 19, 2013 11:00 am
Every music genre has its traditionalists--modern jazz artists who replicate the sound of the 1930s, soul bands in matching outfits with rocking horn sections or young rockabillies sporting ducktails and spinning their doghouse basses.
Country music is no exception. There are many artists on today's Americana charts, such as Dwight Yoakam, Kelly Willis, Buddy Miller, Kasey Chambers or Bonnie "Prince" Billy, who fell in love with the real thing--the sounds of Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, The Everly Brothers and Loretta Lynn--and decided to follow their hearts instead of the glitzy road to Nashvegas. No American music has strayed further from its roots than contemporary country.
One artist who has not strayed, and who has been playing what he calls "Juke Joint Swing" since he was a teenager, is Wayne "The Train" Hancock. Although his sound harkens back to late greats like Hank Williams and Hank Thompson, Hancock continues to be his own man and not some parody of a bygone era.
His sound is what used to be called "hillbilly music"--a mix of Bob Wills Texas Swing, jazz, Jimmie Rodgers, rockabilly and of course, the two Hanks mentioned above.
His new recording, Ride, his fifth for the alt-country label Bloodshot, is similar to his past catalog. That's a good thing. Hancock staked out his territory years back and stuck to it, writing and playing original material in a truly American roots fashion.
Hancock has used the same producer, the great steel guitar player (and father of Dixie Chick Natalie) Lloyd Maines, since his debut and has not changed horses mid-stream. Maines obviously knows the sound that Hancock wants and the partnership has continued to deliver eight albums of honest, live-sounding organic performances.
Hancock and his band are veritable touring war horses. From mid-February to the end of this month they will have logged nearly 30 club dates and thousands of miles. Fans of the band know what to expect when "The Train" rolls into town; any venue turns into a honky-tonk juke joint in no time.
Wayne Hancock and his band will play The Adelphia Music Hall on Thursday, March 21 at 8 p.m. Also on the bill is Charleston, W.Va.-based band Blue Yonder, featuring singer-songwriter John Lilly and National Guitar Champion Robert Schaffer.
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