Luckenbach! Compadres! Reviewed
Luckenbach! Compadres!(Palo Duro)
When Hondo Crouch purchased downtown Luckenbach in 1970, he transformed the sleepy West Texas hamlet into a mythic music haven of outlaw and gonzo country, a reputation cemented with Jerry Jeff Walker's classic 1973 live recording at the town's historic dance hall, ¡Viva Terlingua! In 2006, 30 years after Hondo's death, artists gathered to celebrate the town's musical heritage with a live recording, resulting in last October's Viva! Terlingua! Nuevo! A week after its release, Walker, who had no hand in the album or performance, handed Palo Duro Records a cease-and-desist order, claiming copyright infringement and misappropriation of his identity. With the legal dispute finally settled this year, the album re-emerged with a new title but was otherwise unchanged and still features a set list culled from both ¡Viva Terlingua! and 1994 Walker release ¡Viva Luckenbach! Better still, Luckenbach! Compadres! raises the bar on Walker's performances by raising the roof of the dance hall, the ball-cap-meets-cowboy-hat crowd's enthusiasm turning the tribute into a true celebration. Walker's original Lost Gonzo Band, including Gary P. Nunn, Herb Steiner, and Bob Livingston, sets the tone by introducing "Gettin' By" with "Hi Buckaroos, it's Gonzo time again!" Texas anthems are the order of the evening, from Morrison-Williams' proclaiming "What I Like About Texas" and Cory Morrow leading the predictable barroom sing-along of "Red Neck Mother" to John Arthur Martinez's laid-back "Viva! Luckenbach!" and the Derailers' exceptional take on "London Homesick Blues." The slower moments are equally charged, Jimmy LaFave offering a beautifully scratchy "I'll Be Here in the Mornin'" and Brian Burns' poignantly plying "Desperados Waiting for the Train," while Kent Finlay silences the dance hall with a reading of Hondo's poem "Luckenbach Daylight." Like the town, the heart of Luckenbach! Compadres! extends far beyond its size.