best music – and the best musicians – defy easy categorization.
Promoters, record company and media scramble for words to describe the
flavor-of-the-month, but folks with real music in their souls just keep
creating, playing – even redefining themselves – with no thought
of labels or catchy marketing phrases. Tough on A&R crews, and even
tougher on themselves, they’re good news for people who love a song
that says more than “I just wanna get some airplay”. Upbeat
contemporary. Alt-country, “Hat Band”, who really cares what
it’s called, as long as it speaks to you? And the way it is with
What can you say about
the guys in the band?
Sneaky Pete Kleinow
is, in no small part, responsible for the group’s signature sound;
his groundbreaking steel guitar work brought the rock guitarist’s
licks, effects and attitude to the here-to-fore “country music”
instrument. It would be no overstatement to say that all steel guitar
work in recent pop-rock music owes something to the innovation of Sneaky
Pete. After the disbanding of the original Burritos in 1972, Sneaky Pete
pursued a career as a session musician, becoming one of the most sought-after
steel guitarists in Los Angeles through the 1970s. He recorded with a
veritable who’s who of pop-rock: John Lennon, The Rolling Stones,
Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Wonder, Randy Newman, Little Feat, Joni Mitchell,
Jackson Browne, Joe Cocker, Carly Simon, Harry Nilsson, just to name a
few. In the meantime, he continued to pursue a second career in film as
a visual effects specialist. Growing out of his experience in the 1960s
as head animator on the Gumby television series, Sneaky Pete compiled
an impressive resume of work including credits on The Empire Strikes Back
(1980), Terminator (1984) and Army of Darkness (1993); his production
company also produced memorable television ads for Chuck Wagon dog food
and Pillsbury (featuring the doughboy “Poppin’ Fresh”).
In the past two decades he has also continued his recording career, playing
with various incarnations of The Flying Burrito Brothers and releasing
a solo album “Meet Sneaky Pete” (1990). His work with Burrito
Deluxe marks his return to the studio after more than a decade.
Canadian born Garth Hudson, multi-instrumentalist and musical sage, has
been heralded as one of the most innovative musicians of the latter half
of the twentieth century. Hudson's work with The Band is nothing less
than legendary, his playing unique, and his range of musical voices —
on, among other instruments, the saxophone, the accordion, and various
incarnations of the keyboard — protean. — the most innovative
of The Band's talented members. Hudson's choice of musical venues has
been eclectic over the years, and his solo release The Sea to the North
(also on CoraZong Records) solidified his place in the roll call of the
new millennium's musical innovators. Hudson’s keyboard work can
also be heard on recent albums from Dixie Hummingbirds, Los Lobos and
Carlton Moody may be a few years younger than Garth and Sneaky, but he
sings with the conviction of the ages. He comes by it honestly, too –
his father was a fiddler with Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. Carlton’s
voice ranges from clear as a bell to gritty as a pair of old work boots,
branding every song his own, every lyric a narrative that makes the listener
feel like he’s swapping stories on the front porch with a dear friend.
Grammy-nominated for Best Country Instrumental, he doesn’t hide
behind the microphone, backing his pure-as-spring-water, Hill Country
voice on guitar and mandolin.
Of Course, without
drums’n’bass, it just don’t rock. Jeff ‘Stick’
Davis featured with The Amazing Rhythm Aces, and he hasn’t dropped
a beat since. His incredible work on both electric and upright bass drives
Burrito Deluxe forward.
Finally, but by no
means least, Rick Lonow keeps the beat on drums and percussion. Recording
with everyone from Johnny Cash to Tommy Tutone, Rick knows that it’s
about more than keeping on the quarter notes – it’s about
moving the music and the listener.
With a cast of seasoned
veterans, the ingredients in this Burrito are familiar, but it’s
a spicy new dish with its own unique flavour. Sequestered in a basement
somewhere in Nashville, the boys spent several intense weeks writing,
rehearsing, and picking, developing their own signature sound –
and collectively turning a major new page in their respective illustrious
careers. When the time came to record, it all came together so easily
and naturally, even they were amazed. Stick and Rick laid down 25 rhythm
tracks in only two days. (If you’ve spent any time in recording
studios, you’d know it’s no mean feat). The emotions played
out on this album range from the sweet, simple love song, to poignant
tales of mournful regret, to good-time. They never fail to reach the listener
and burrow inside … and they never bend themselves to fit into a
This is a brand new
page – a New American music for people who love a good story well
told, and a melody that sticks around for more than three minutes on the
radio. This is music for The Heartland, played from the heart.
… The songs
You Got Gold. A love song as only John Prine could
write. A little bittersweet, a little tongue-in-cheek, who else could
rhyme “Life is a blessin’/ it’s a delicatessen?”
The interplay of Garth’s keyboards and Sneaky’s pedal steel
is the best kind of musical collaboration—masterly, playful, and
- The Letter.
We all know this song, whether the Boxtop’s 1967 original, The
Arbors’ 1969 cover, or Joe Cocker’s famously soulful live
version featuring Leon Russell. Garth’s signature Lowry organ
sound starts us off, and Carlton puts his own countrified stamp on the
vocals. Note for trivia buffs—Boxtops’ singer Alex Chilton
was only sixteen when he recorded this chart-topping hit!
A medium-tempo love song, written by the whole band. No one can say
exactly where it started, somebody just got into a groove, and everybody
else picked up on it. There’s immediacy to songs that happen like
this, and it shows in the boys’ playing, and Carlton’s sweet,
This instrumental written by Sneaky plays it sweet and mellow. A tune
for a warm summer afternoon in the country, even if you’re listening
stuck in rush hour traffic. This one goes down smooth.
Wheel. Penned by North Carolina native and Atlantic recording
artist Matt King, one of Carlton’s many musical friends. An up-tempo
rocker, with a faintly ominous tinge to the Biblically infused lyrics,
this number puts Sneaky’s pedal-steel front-and-centre. Sneaky
can be subtle, but this one shows him off for the hard-driving rock
star he should be.
Ball. A collaborative effort between Carlton Moody and the
legendary Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, this is spicy tune that says “Laissez
les bon temps roulez!” Once again, Garth’s accordion sounds
authentic, without lapsing into cliché. Carlton’s mandolin
licks complete the sound of the Ol’ Missisip.
I Go. A workingman’s ballad, this original by Carlton
tugs at anyone who’s ever carried an unrequited love in his heart.
From the big city lights to every one-horse town, we’ve all felt
the ache of “The one that got away.” Straightforward, beautiful,
and sincere, with back-up harmonies a perfect counterpoint to Carlton’s
- All I
Had Left. A countrified contribution from Stick, a song of
losing love that avoids sounding maudlin. There’s the flavour
of a traditional Honky-Tonk number here, but with the distinctive Burrito
Deluxe spices. Garth sounds right at home with some Roadhouse-style
piano, and Sneaky’s pedal steel lends just the right rustic feel.
Money. Originally performed by Richard Ferreira, co-written
with Mark Irwin, it’s a bluesy, earthy number, hinting at shady
back-door deals done in the dead of night. We never know exactly what
the mission might be, but we can feel the mixture of fear, desperation
and the relief that will come with the realization of that sweet, sweet
Memphis Money. Like the song says, “Sometimes a man’s gotta
do what a man’s gotta do.”
This City. Merle Haggard gave this one his mournful best, a
last-call at the bar kind of song. Despairing on the surface, but with
an undercurrent of hope, Merle forswears the microwave oven and the
city life, and looks to build himself a cabin in the country with a
potbellied stove. Merle could play the recluse, but this speaks to anyone
who’s ever wanted to just chuck it all and get back to the land.
Rouge. Master song smith Guy Clark has his roots in West Texas,
but in this one, he sounds like he can’t wait to kick the dust
off his boots, get down to the Bayou, and kick up the heels on his alligator
shoes. It’s a good-time Louisiana party song, and Garth’s
accordion lends just the right touch of Cajun flavour. You can almost
taste the crawfish!
- Last Letter
Home. A Civil War lament, a soldier’s dying words, sentiments
that arise any time men take up arms against each other. Written by
Butch McDade, Stick Davis’s drum-playing comrade in The Amazing
Rhythm Aces. Although the song first appeared on The Aces’ 1977
album Toucan Do It Too, the last verse was written twenty years later.
Sadly, Butch died of cancer in 1998, at 52, and this sensitive rendition
is a fitting tribute to a fine musician’s legacy.
- Rex Bob
Lowenstein. Rex Bob is the kind of radio DJ we search the airwaves
for, but rarely—if ever—find. He’s an Everyman who
plays what he wants, sponsors and suits be damned. He might not hold
onto his job, but he makes a glorious last stand for his audience. Writer
Mark Germino started off as a poet, supported his later musical ambitions
as a trucker, and both show in his down-to-earth lyricism.
bonus track] Bid You Goodnight.
A traditional Bahamian gospel song sung a capella by the Grateful Dead
to close many of their concerts in the late sixties and the beginning
of the seventies. The Dixie Hummingbirds included this beautiful gospel
song on their Diamond Jubilation album, on which Burrito Deluxe’s
Garth Hudson can be heard as a guest-musician.