you've ever wondered what Ferlin Husky and
Faron Young might
be playing had they been born of this generation, this is it.
I remember when both of those country boys hit the charts and
they were two of the coolest--- always dressed to the max with
a couple of the best bands to hit the TV screen. More than
that, they bridged everything a kid who grew up on Country &
Western needed--- a rock 'n' roll attitude with country roots.
Truth be told, there were few of us teens back in those days
who separated the two genres. A hit was a hit and in Oregon in
the late fifties and early sixties, Ferlin and Faron had their
share, and more than Hello
Wings of a
They ripped it up before they hit it big and they country'd it
up after and while they moved up and down the charts, they
remained generational favorites until radio got tipped on its
ear in the seventies. At that time, Country & Western
pretty much became Country and rock was stealing its thunder,
bands like The
Flying Burrito Brothers,
a number of young Country fans on a country rock ride.
So isn't it fair that Country gets its revenge? The eighties
saw Country cracking the charts on all levels and it continues
through to today, though genre seems to mean a lot less than
it did back then, most of today's musicians following the
music wherever it takes them. I mean, when you can outcrank
rockers wearing dusters and cowboy hats, that says something,
not that I understand it. Then again, in this Modern Country
world, maybe fashion out-trumps music.
I still love Country but not the stuff being mass-produced by
Nashville. I love the Country being produced by the indies.
Zoe Muth & The High Rollers impresses the hell out
of me as does Dave Gleason (one of the few country boys
with left coast twang), The Honeycutters (out of
Asheville, North Carolina), and Copper & Glass (though
they have had a personnel change since their excellent
self-titled album which could find them steering away from
Country--- you never know), among others. There is something
about that indie way of looking at music, I guess.
Michael Ubaldini comes at it from a refreshing angle.
His songs lean toward the past--- towards the days of Husky
and Young, as I stated before, but also toward later
Country--- the Charlie Pride and the Ed Bruce years
and even those of Bob McDill and Tom T. Hall.
You can hear it in his lyrics and choice of subject matter of
songs like Lonesome When You're Gone and The Outlaw
Kind and Three Cheers For Heartache. You want Hall
or McDill, check out J.W. Price The Texas Oil Man.
If one wants to be picky, I suppose you could say that
Ubaldini's voice isn't quite as strong as Husky's or Young's,
but that would be digging deep. Those are two unique and
powerful voices and while Ubaldini's doesn't quite reach the
heights, it does the job nicely. The thing is, his songwriting
and the band more than make up for strength of pipes and, in
the end, that is enough. More than enough, considering that he
hands us fifteen songs. Considering the strength of those
songs, I would call that downright generous.
No, I don't listen to people when they talk about Nashville
these days--- not the Modern Country Nashville. Formula's the
game there. Give them fashion and formula and they're happy.
Of course, if they really wanted people like myself to pay
attention, they would let the artists do what they do best.
What Michael & The Lonesome Playboys do best is
music. Michael doesn't wear that cowboy hat for show. He just