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A Wayne “The Train” Hancock album is as refreshing as a beer pulled from a tub of ice on a summer’s day. You stick your hand deep into that tub, you know it’s gonna be cold, and you know it’s gonna be beer, but, dang, if it ain’t always a kick how surprisingly JUST RIGHT it is. Slingin’ Rhythm is just right, a finely honed, day-in-the-life brand of juke joint rhythm sitting in the sweet spot of American music invention between country, hillbilly, jazz and western swing.
And while “The Train” is indeed a throwback, the funny thing is, the more retro he gets, the fresher he sounds. His songs about the everyday and the everyman, with their driving pulse and live-in-the-moment vibe, have a character and passion that go beyond a particular time.
Even though it’s been over three years since his last album, Ride, no grass has grown under Wayne’s boots—he’s on the road 200 days a year. Slingin’ Rhythm, with its emphasis on off-the-cuff instrumental interplay and extended soloing, Wayne and his band drive down the centerline between tight and loose. Like a latter day Bob Wills, spontaneously calling out encouragement, or Hank Sr and Ernest Tubb effortlessly knocking out smile-through-the-pain honky-tonk, Wayne “The Train” Hancock delivers an unvarnished, BS-free restorative.
When it comes to classic trope of the murder ballad, the subject is often spoken through metaphor or deeply formalized imagery. Not so with Wayne. He gets to the point in “I Killed Them Both” with a chilling bluntness that’d make Johnny Paycheck nod with approval. The thing is, though, you might miss the tragedy at first because that bouncy back beat will have you on the dance floor. On the languid lament “Dog Day Blues” you can feel the sweat rolling down the back of your neck. The attention to detail in “Small Bouquet of Roses” paints a distinct picture of heartbreak.
Wayne teamed up once again with his producer-for-life Lloyd Maines (Terry Allen, Uncle Tupelo, Dixie Chicks, Ray Wylie Hubbard) and recorded on the fly, never doing a song the same way twice. That’s what gives Slingin’ Rhythm its relentless energy—and with a band this killer, you’ve got to let them off the leash. “2 String Boogie” and Merle Travis’s “Divorce Me C. O. D.” bounce along on crisp, jazzy guitar licks, referencing masters like Chet Atkins and Hark Garland right up through the neo-retro scenesters like Deke Dickerson. And the loungy Texas swing in “Wear Out Your Welcome” and the instrumental “Over Easy” freshens up the template laid out by the great Texas Playboy steel player Leon McAuliffe.
As always, Wayne writes what he knows with the clarity and honesty of a door slam. Like the title track, both a tenacious statement of purpose and a straight-up, no-chaser bio, says:
“I love the road and my plans are never to retire, and anyone who says that I will is nothin’ but a liar…cuz that’s how I make my livin’, slingin’ rhythm”
"I want to jump the blues and make the hard times swing"
Man, there ain't a problem that can't be salved by his brand of stripped down, intensely rhythmic
Yeah, Wayne might be a throwback, but his conviction and energy kick to the curb any preconceived notions about what that means. Just check out that fuzzed out James Burton-styled guitar solo on "Dog House Blues," the straight up stand-up bass breakdown on "Throwin' Away My Money" or the jazz inflected git runs on "Freight Train Boogie." Even when he sings on the hard times like "the rich folks call it recession, but the poor folks call it depression" in "Workin' at Workin'," this Austin, TX native does it with a big smile and keeps the dance floor full, calling out solos to crack players like a modern day Bob Wills. Hell, you can even dance to his murder ballads. Check out "Your Love and His Blood" and "Moving On #3" if you don't believe us.
Produced by long time collaborator Lloyd Maines (Joe Ely, Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Dixie Chicks), Viper of Melody is a tick-tight organic affair full of first takes and a near telepathic interplay by the band. It's not surprising given that this band clocks in 200+ shows a year. If you live somewhere between Portland, Maine and Portland, Oregon, you're likely going to get a chance to see for yourself. "The music jumps and swings, often at once, pushing the sound to maximum effect. There’s an unspoken rule in country that those singers who really are the all-timers have a little catch in their voice, that spot between words where infinity rushes in, and when you hear it there is not doubt you’re in the presence of greatness. Wayne Hancock has it, just so you know, and likely always has." —Sonic Boomers
Wayne's third full length is a testament to the version of America he loves; one decorated with lonesome desert highways, cheap hotels, dance halls, and lost loves along the way.
Wayne Hancock personifies the two great American inventions of jazz and country and creates his own style of uncompromising western swing; as much Gershwin as Hank; equal parts Art Blakley
In typical Wayne fashion, Tulsa was put to tape in 2 days, capturing the band at their livest and loosest. Recorded by longtime producer and ally, Lloyd Maines (Wilco, Joe Ely, Richard Buckner, Uncle Tupelo), Tulsa is spurred on Wayne’s signature "call-outs" to his stellar cast– Eddie Biebel, Dave Biller, Paul Skelton (lead guitar), Chris Darrell (doghouse bass), Eddie Rivers (steel guitar), Bob Stafford (trombone), and John Doyle (clarinet).
Tulsa adds to Wayne’s stellar canon of musical documentation of an America, not spliced into red and blue states, but one where in any town, on any given night, with the right soundtrack, you can still take a real top shelf girl out for a spin and knock back a couple of cold ones.
"Tulsa is yet another beautifully crafted collection of stunning originals that finds him walking in the footsteps of giants; in fact, it might just be his best yet. While there are plenty of tunes here that call upon the swinging spirits of everyone from Cab Calloway to Gatemouth Brown to a thousand Western Swing kings whose names have been lost to the sands of time, Hancock’s way with a ballad is nearly unequaled." —Offbeat
At a time when many self-proclaimed musicologists and genre snobs want to bottle America’s rich musical legacy, label it, and put it on a museum shelf so it can be safely experienced, Wayne and his band of accomplices will have none of it--they aim to air it out every night and let it run...Swing Time is Wayne "The Train" Hancock's second full-length album for Bloodshot, and it was
recorded live over a few nights where he is most at home: the stage of Austin’s fabled roadhouse extraordinaire, The Continental Club. Produced by Lloyd Maines (Wilco, Richard Buckner, Joe Ely), this album dusts off some classics from albums that have been long out of print, like "Thunderstorms and Neon Signs" and "Johnny Law," and dresses them up in some new finery, showcases some brand new tunes, and rolls out some covers done in a style that has scuffed up dance floors from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon.
In the glare of the stage lights, Wayne and his tick tight band kick it out and rescue country’s heritage from the clutches of the Nash-vile leviathan. We think you’ll agree, the goods on Swing Time are more infectious than poison ivy, and twice as hard to shake once you’ve been exposed to it.
"A live album is not usually a great place to discover an artist you've ignored for too long... but this is a great goddam live album, and I feel like a dope for not having this guy's records in my collection. He impues his material with the kind of I-don't-give-a-fuck edge that pushes each and every one of these 'old-fashioned' songs right up into your face." —Scram
The "Train's" first album for his longtime fans at Bloodshot, and do we ever love it. He possesses one of the most instantly identifiable voices in roots music and wraps it around whacked-out hillbilly barnburners, dusty desert ballads, and Hank Williams meets George Gershwin dance floor warmers.
"There’s two reasons you won’t hear him on so-called country stations: he’s too good and too uncompromising. In an earlier era, Hancock would have been a top honky-tonk star." —San Diego Union-Tribune
The South Austin Sessions - 2001
Three swinging originals and three choice covers add up to a neat little record for your collection. It's like three great 78rpm records without the hiss and scratch. Don't miss a fabulous cover of "Stormy Weather" featuring Rebecca Snow on vocals.
Wild Free and Wreckless - 1999
Wild, Free and Reckless, is yet another haunting memory of vintage American sounds as Wayne lays down his patented brand of "Juke Joint Swing."
Recorded in San Marcos, Texas for ARK21 records in only 16 hours this blend of Honky Tonk,
Thunderstorms and Neon Signs - 1998
Thunderstorms and Neon Signs, contains some of the most chilling yet heartfelt music since Mr. Hank Williams. But yet, moving easily from heartbreak to dancehall honky tonk ("Juke Joint Jumpin'"), Wayne and the band shine. The title track, covered by Hank Williams III, on a album of his own, is classic Hancock. And Hank III will be the first to tell you, "Wayne Hancock has more Hank SR in him than either I or Hank Williams JR. He is the real deal."
That's What Daddy Wants -1997