Heybale! and The Cornell Hurd Band
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., May 30, 2003
The Cornell Hurd BandLive at Jovita's (Behemoth)
A pair like this is as good as two aces from a clean deck. You know the game's good when Heybale! opens with Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk Revisited," the all-star Austin quintet featuring pianist Earl Poole Ball, standup bassist Kevin Smith, red-hot pickers Gary Claxton and Redd Volkaert, and drummer Tom Lewis. There's plenty of boot-scootin' in the group's 14 covers, including weepers ("Farewell Party"), traditionals ("Sally Goodin'"), and bouncy rockers ("Good Deal Lucille"), yet the beauty of Heybale!'s music is that it's unadorned country that doesn't pretend to be anything but good. The favorites are solid as a full house -- Charlie Rich's "Sittin' and Thinkin'," Roger Miller's "King of the Road," Johnny Paycheck's "Apt. #9," and Chuck Berry's "C'est la Vie." No less a classic hand but played with tongue decidedly in cheek, the Cornell Hurd Band's Live at Jovita's ups the ante with "country music's worst nightmare." It's easy enough to dismiss CHB as country clowns on their songs alone ("I Don't Care What It Is That You Did When You Lived in Ft. Worth," "The Genitalia of a Fool," "Tell Your Shrink I Said Thanks for Nothin'"). Yet the 24(!) tracks here display a staggering musical proficiency from the 19 band members and guests such as perennially underrated local guitarist Paul Skelton ("Texas Nite Train"), moonlighting artist Blackie White ("Nyquil Blues"), and dynamite shouter Dee Lannon ("Hoy, Hoy, Hoy"). Still, you can bet on Cornell Hurd, whose vision, charisma, and boss-man talent lay down the cards for this winning live recording. Shuffle and lay out another one, dealer.