REVIEW: Grassroots Country – Hand Picked (Vol 1)

Of all the reasons I enjoy music, there’s one that I sometimes forget — music can be fun, and that’s the reaction I had the first time I listened to Hand Picked (Vol 1), from the folks at Twang Brand Music. If you’re a little new to the world of grassroots country music, you won’t go down the wrong road with this compilation album. And if you’ve already spent a lot of time enjoying the boot-stompin’ sound of honky tonk from around the country, you’ll like this offering even more because you might recognize some old friends…or make some new ones.

Although Nashville is still considered the capital of mainstream country music, there are lots of other outfits around the country churning out good stuff. This album, produced in Northern California’s Sonoma Valley (where wine is the better known product) contains an assortment that’s about as diverse as you’ll ever find. Most of the musicians already have albums of their own or have played with well-known country groups, but haven’t quite hit the big time nationally.

Among the musicians, who are from all parts of the country in addition the Northern California area, are those with roots in southern rock, western swing, bluegrass, and steel guitar music, just to name a few. There’s a group called The Brooklyn Cowboys, and even a cajun band from Louisiana, Moe-D, providing one of the highlights of the album with their offering, “Get Away Close”.

Almost every tune on the album is a good listen, and I’m betting you’ll find a lot to like. There are clips of all the songs at the Twang website, but here’s one for you to listen to — it’s “Lucy’s Lament” by Moonshine Hangover (which is a great name for a country group). And it’s not to be confused with an dandy from Poor Man’s Whiskey called “Lake Country Lady”. For something with a little more action, listen to the Bays Brothers tell us how it’s all about the “Lovin’, Drinkin’ and Gunplay”.

There’s also at least one song with a convoluted history. Legendary alternative country/folk radio station KFAT helped promote an unusual cover around 25 years ago, and that song has now been re-mastered and added to the mix on this album. It’s Robb Strandlund’s rockabilly version of the Bee-Gees hit “Stayin” Alive”! And if that’s a little too strange for you, or if you’re looking for something a little softer and more spiritual, try “Then I Know We’ll Be Alright” by Chris Cairns.

Lots of fun and good music too. As it says on the album notes, “A well-stocked jukebox of honky-tonk neon, back porch pickin’, and Sunday mornin’ redemption”.

1. Josephine – Mello Joy Boys (3:27)
2. The Truth (As We Know It) – Jim Stringer a& AM Band (3:23)
3. There’s Gonna Be A Few Changes – Dave Insley (3:07)
4. Jesus Heal My Hangover – Chevy Downs (2:53)
5. Stayin’ Alive – Robb Strandlund (5:55)
6. Lucy’s Lament – Moonshine Hangover (3:30)
7. Lovin’, Drinkin’ and Gunplay – The Bays Brothers (2:25)
8. On and On – The Bluerunners (3:44)
9. Little Shack – Dusty 45’s (2:35)
10. Intermission – Poor Man’s Whiskey (:56)
11. You Must Be From Nashville – Brian Waldschlager (3:54)
12. Sober – The Little Morts (2:21)
13. Lake County Lady – Poor Man’s Whiskey (3:52)
14. My Heart’s In Denial – The Brooklyn Cowboys (3:30)
15. Get Away Close – Moe-D (2:48)
16. Then I Know We’ll Be Alright – Chris Cairns (3:29)
17. Llano Estacado – Genuine Cowhide (5:25)

Buy the album

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