"I want to jump the blues and make the hard times swing."
So opens Wayne The Train's new album, and it's a deft proclamation of his unwavering belief in the curative energy of juke joint swing.
Man, there ain't a problem that can't be salved by his brand of stripped down, intensely rhythmic amalgam of hillbilly, roadhouse blues, honky-tonk, rockabilly and hep-cat boogie. It's an infectious and unpretentious sound telling quotidian tales of driving your life away, throwing your money away, playing the slots and twisting one up with your friends, and rich with a strain of populism that shimmies all the way back to Jimmie Rodgers, one that makes the holes in your roof and holes in your shoes all part of our common humanity. It's all played with an old school musicianship and a stand-on-the-edge-of-the stage immediacy that rockets out of the speakers.
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.