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Wayne "The Train" Hancock
Bloodshot Records

According to the late Waylon Jennings, Texas is the home of western swing, and Bob Wills is still the king of the genre. I couldn't agree with him more on this particular point, but I'd like to point out that one of the handful of men keeping western swing alive in this new century is Wayne "The Train" Hancock. From brooding ballads to hot-rod lightning honky-tonk, Hancock and his crack band are keeping the sound alive, and doing so with one hundred percent credibility.

Tulsa finds Hancock calling out his band in the traditional swing way on many numbers, coaxing guitar solos from lead guitarists Eddie Biebel, Paul Skelton, and Dave Biller at different times, and then calling the smooth steel guitar of Eddie Rivers into play at just the right moments. Chris Darrell slaps away on the stand up bass viol, while Bob Stafford and John Doyle lend their talents on trombone and clarinet, respectively. The songs on Tulsa are varied in tempo and fever, with themes that range from love songs to trucking songs… exactly what country is supposed to be. "Tulsa" kicks the album off in high swing Texas Playboys' style, full of clarinets and brilliant steel guitar accompanying the rhythmic guitars and bass. "Drinkin' Blues" slows it down a bit and features a couple of amazing jazzy guitar solos offset with the zesty twang of Paul Skelton's Bakersfield sound. "Highway Bound" is a heavily reverb-soaked downbeat ode to the road, while "I Don't Care Anymore" picks things back up and throws in some more fantastic solos. "Goin' Home Blues" is chock full of great solos and Hancock's voice is thick with his drawl as he calls players out. On "Shooting Star From Texas" Hancock channels the spirit of Hank Williams, sounding eerily similar to the original rocker - even more so than on the other tracks, while the band wails away, brilliantly offsetting the very Jennings-style storytelling.

Whether or not you are familiar with western swing - if you are at all interested in country music - you should be. And there is no better modern place to start than with Wayne Hancock and band. I'm sure that Bob Wills is sitting somewhere tapping his foot to this fine recording that is doing its best to keep his legacy alive, while Hank looks on smiling at his fine protégé. This is the finest new swing record I've heard in many years, and should be heard by all.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. Tulsa
2. Drinkin' Blues
3. Highway Bound
4. I Don't Care Anymore
5. This Lonely Night
6. Goin' Home Blues
7. Shootin' Star From Texas
8. Ain't Gonna Worry No More
9. Gonna Be Flyin' Tonight
10. No Sleep Blues
11. Lord Take My Pain
12. Back Home
13. Brother Music, Sister Rhythm
14. Goin' To Texas When I'm Through

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