Friday, February 13, 2009

Guest Post: Honky Tonk Music Is Alive and Well in Texas

Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon, Austin

Hey folks! Today's excellent post comes from longtime commenter, first-time guest-poster Dave D. (Not to be confused with my poker buddy Dave, who has posted here before).

Dave D. is a self-described honky-tonk addict who occasionally takes work in Nashville or Austin strictly to feed his honky-tonk addiction. So sit back and enjoy his take on the female side of the current honky-tonk scene in Texas:

* * * * *

Although country music radio these days bears little in common with the music celebrated here at STWOF, the State of Texas is producing lots of music consistent with country music’s honky-tonk heritage. This post highlights five ladies who have released recordings in the last year or two that are certainty worth a listen. If it generates any interest, I’ll follow up with a post about the fellas.

Leading the list is Sunny Sweeney, a traditionalist (motto: “Get Your Honky Tonk On”) with an updated edge - or, Americana music loaded with twang. Sunny self-produced her Heartbreakers Hall of Fame CD while holding down a gig at Austin’s cinder-block Poodle Dog Lounge. The CD made its way to Big Machine Record’s (home of that other traditional country music paragon, Taylor Swift) president Scott Borchetta, who signed Sunny to a record contract and re-released the CD completely unedited from its original form. Along with writing her own music, Sunny has a great ear for songs, as the covers below from writers such as Jim Lauderdale and Iris Dement will attest. Sunny is currently in the studio cutting her second record; one can only hope that it is nearly as good as her first.

Sunny Sweeney – Refresh My Memory
Sunny Sweeney – Mama’s Opry

(Buy music from Sunny Sweeney)

Next up is Houston’s Leslie Sloan, fronting Miss Leslie and Her Juke Jointers. Often compared to Connie Smith, her earlier records contained a mix of ‘50s and 60’s honky-tonk chestnuts and her live shows feature more Johnny Paycheck than anyone around. She really hit her stride with last summer’s Between the Whiskey and the Wine, a completely self-penned record that covers coping (and not) with a recent divorce. I’d suggest that songs such as In the Matter of Me and You stand up quite well when compared to the classic George Jones weepers of the ‘60s. If you act quickly, Miss Leslie has been sending out free copies of this CD to those who request it from her web site.

Miss Leslie – In The Matter Of You And Me
Miss Leslie –Honky Tonk Hangover

(Buy music from Miss Leslie)

Third on the list is Amber Digby, a Nashville native relocated to Texas. Her music can be described as retro and not necessarily breaking any new ground, but when it is this well done, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You could put any of her music in a 1960’s truck stop juke box, and it wouldn’t sound the least bit out of place.

Amber Digby – Close Up The Honky Tonks
Amber Digby – Just In Case

(Buy music from Amber Digby)

Next, Brennen Leigh sings a mix of folk/county/bluegrass/blues, although her last release, Holdin’ Our Own with Jesse Dayton, conjures memories of George Jones/Tammy Wynette or June Carter/Johnny Cash.

Brennen Leigh – Like A Freight Train
Jesse Dayton & Brennen Leigh – Long-Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man

(Buy music from Brennen Leigh)

Finally, there's Kimberly Murray, a newcomer with only one CD released to date, but one that is full of two-stepping goodness.

Kimberly Murray – The Box That It Came In

(Buy music from Kimberly Murray)


Gunther said...

That's a great article. Give me more of it!

godoggo said...

Digging the Digby.

godoggo said...

...and not just for the alliteration either.



James Hand a traditional writer in the vein of Lefty and Hank who has battled meth and other demons as well as breaking down and crying on NPR with terry gross.

Eleven Hundred Springs a band who can actually play Buck Owens songs the right way.

Quebe Sisters what the Andrews Sisters might sound like if they were from Texas.

Plenty more but gotta get back to work

Dave D. said...

Good stuff, GACROMWELL! If the second part of this series comes to pass, James Hand will be up near the top of the list.

The Quebe Sisters Band is new to me, and I'll have to check them out. Fortunately, they are on the Marty Stuart TV show this weekend.

Paul said...

Dave D - Thanks again! Bring on part 2 whenever you are ready.

Santo said...

Great post! I am a BIG fan of Sunny Sweeney, so thanks for giving her the shout out!