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Here at CountryStarsOnline.com we’re always on the lookout for emerging talent, and acts that have been around for a while, but without the fanfare they deserve. That’s going to change. Here in " Waiting In The Wings" we’re going to introduce you to acts and performers who, for one reason or another, have caught our eye and our ear. We think you’ll like them. 

November '05

Lonnie Spiker: Unapologetically Honky Tonk

With an album title that says it like it is, and has it confirmed with liberal doses of fiddle and steel, Lonnie Spiker, formerly of Pennsylvania, but now a Texas resident, comes set to win fans on his latest album (Megalith Records).

Spiker’s a good ‘ol boy, one who loves his traditional Haggard and Jones. And by his own admission, he also grew up as a devoted fan of Texas music and all it represented. So, early in this CD, you can hear the major influences that shape Spiker on his second album.

If swing is your thing, you’ll enjoy this. The band is hot, made hotter by the precise playing of highly respected fiddler, Bobby Flores. Flores, a veteran of the music scene, well regarded for his own music and the sessions he has appeared on, with Joe Spivey also on fiddle, delivers swing, weepers, and honky tonkin’ fare with equal dexterity.

Also on this album doing a lively reworking of the Red Simpson classic, “Close Up The Honky Tonks”, is one of Spiker’s heroes, Johnny Bush. Speaking of that recording experience, Spiker has said, “I was so excited that you had to peel me off the ceiling tile. Recording with him was quite an honor.”

Though Spiker only delivers one written tune, the revealing, “Soul Of A Writer,” on this Bill Green produced outing, he may as well have written the others, because his feel and attitude comes through with proud ownership. The proof comes on tracks like the remembered Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Another Place Another Time”. It comes out with all the needed countrified shadings, as does the ache and honesty of “I’ve Got Some Hurtin’ To Do”. Listen out also for “A Little Lonelier Than This” and the guitar-infused and chorus-etched “It’s Me” They’re both prime cuts on this solid release.

To help the uninitiated, Spiker gives us a definition to being unapologetic in his liner cover. He tells us the word, precisely, unapologetically, means to him: “To not give a damn of opinions of bean counters and/or record executives who do not particularly care or have any knowledge of Texas or Honky Tonk music.”

This record is a little askew of the clones and image-makers out of the mainstream, those who would make the music, decided the direction and plot the radio plays. Spiker hasn’t followed the herd. Sadly that may cost him a wider market, but good music, well produced and played, has never been about glossy covers and CMT, rather, it’s been about following your instincts. And on that level, Spiker owes no-one an apology.











By George Peden




Chris Murphy: Blues Violin Music

To be honest, I don’t listen to instrumental music, so it’s no surprise then that I don’t know of Chris Murphy. It’s my loss. This guy can play. Blessed with a distinctive sound, a sound that had one critic write,” He’s the most talented violin player you've never heard of. There aren't many, if any, other violinists out there who do what Chris does, and he does it well. This man is a very accomplished musician, and it clearly shows,” – all deserved comments that reinforce the need to appreciate what’s on offer.

Murphy has been playing his eclectic fusion of folk, blues and country, all with a jangled and energetic fervour for over 15 years. Over the journey he’s progressed from being just a violinist to becoming a band leader, a music writer, and notably a writer of scores for TV and film. It’s not a bad effort from a guy, who, 23 years ago, as a kid ended busted from the Boy Scouts for smoking something green and weed-like.

Atmospheric, charged and lively, Murphy breathes passion into every track on this independently released album out on Kufala Recordings. “Broken Wheel” marries a pounded drumbeat to Murphy’s almost throttled violin, squeezing out rhythms and tones that are engaging and unique. Subdued tones come on the mellow “Cherry Wine” – a laid back affair, possibly designed for a Sunday on a balcony with a bloated wine glass filled with a superb red. The moods stay lazy and relaxed as another drink title, “Bourbon And Water,” plays out easily.

Other appealing tracks include the snare-laced “Southside Sally,” the swing-sounding “Ring-A-Ding,” while the evocative “Lonely By Day Lonely By Night” is a melodic misery that tugs at the heart – just as Murphy intended.

This album is different. I really haven’t heard anything like it in while. Rather than getting out of the house more, as has been the barbed suggestions of friends to the problem, I might have to seek out more of Murphy. I loved what, after a couple of listens, for me became a musical journey without words and studio distractions. It became music that swerved me towards a talent I suggest for those who like their choice of instrument tampered rather than tempered. 



South Of Nowhere: 78016

This music comes with the publicity suggestion that you sit back with a cold one and just listen. And that’s not bad advice. With their debut album of 10 self-written tracks, the band – Pat Bourcier on bass, Butch Cook on acoustic guitar, Layne Bales on lead vocals and harmonica and Mario Cassiano on lead guitar – has laboured over an album that’s quickly gaining appeal.

The signature spin, “Roll Into Laredo” has enjoyed placement on the Texas Music Chart, as well as picking up a steady stream of local and overseas radio play. Telling of self-renewal through a geographical change, the song is a solid entrée to what’s on offer here. “Laredo”, the only real rocker on the album, is a polished blast of thumped piano, a not-out-of-place harmonica and edgy guitar, all propped by a tight backbeat and chorus. It fits in well with subdued tracks on making a home, staying home, and the pitfalls of deciding to leave home. Along the way this band, who named their debut after the zip code of their base in Devine, Texas, rallies wholesome tunes made for drinkin’ and thinkin’.

Tunes like “Laredo,” South Of Nowhere,” the discovery tale of pushing the herd, “Drive A Team,” and the revealing introspective, “It Makes No Difference,” play as worthy album standout tracks.

With a line-up including Auggie Meyers and Ace in the Hole drummer Mike Kennedy, for an album that’s south of nowhere, these guys are heading in the right direction. Take a seat, kick off your boots, open the fridge and invite a mate over. Have a frosted beer, maybe two, and enjoy music made for drinkin’ and thinkin’.



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