Five years to the month since the Stumbleweeds released their debut, the sassy Boston/Providence hayseeds have at last spit another record out. They’ll be celebrating the release of Evil On Your Mind (Spinout Records) with a wagon train of family and friends, most likely decked out in funny hats and Nudie suits. In the process, they’ll be turning the Century Lounge into a hard-drivin’ Hee-Haw honky-tonk. It’s just what we’ve needed around here lately. The reemergence of the ’Weeds returns promise to the local alt-country scene, as does the return of the “Your Roots Are Showing” series at the Century Lounge.
Lead ’Weed Lynette Lenker helms the band and has spearheaded their sound and vision, though with plenty of qualified help. Dennis Kelly, Jack Hanlon, and Johnny Cote all flank Lenker, lending the finishing touches and tones to an already well-conceived platter. To her credit, Lenker has no trouble mustering up a truly ginuwine twang queen schtick. Her vocals are locked in — simple and direct, not overwrought or excessively quirky. The band itself — straight-up traditional rockabilly and country — proves in this case that simplicity is winning, and so is the repertoire.
Speaking of repertoire, the songs on the new album either come directly from the ’60s or are originals made to sound like classic country of the period. Among them is a cover of Wanda Jackson’s “Saving My Love,” which sounds just right in Lenker’s hands, the Noel Sherman/ Barry Mann rave-up “Hard Times Ahead,” and the frank but funny Lenker/Eddie Angel original, the Hank Williams-esque “Doggone Thing.” Kelly, whose Telecaster tone and technique has grown impressively over the years and has be¬come the real McCoy in twang bar guitar, is always a treat. He lets loose in all the right spots, but especially at the end of the swingin’ “Pennsyltucky.”
The ’Weeds celebrated their national CD release two weeks ago at the Viva Las Vegas 9 Rockabilly Weekend out in Sin City; it’s the biggest rockabilly fest in the world and a great place to start making some hay. Now you can see your favorite hillbilly combo without headin’ west.
The Stumbleweeds will play the Century Lounge, 150 Chestnut Street, Providence on Friday (April 28), with HAYSEED, LONESOME BOB (former Ben Vaughn Combo drummer and troubador), and the night’s hosts, LUCKY 57. Call 401.751.2255.
Harley bashes Bush
I don’t often get to write about BILL HARLEY, but he has a new tune that by his own admission doesn’t fit in all that well with his family-friendly show. Let’s just say it’s “against type.” The song’s titled “Ahab,” and the lyrics, frank and transparently metaphorical, pretty much tell the story: “Somebody call for the captain/’Cause it looks like we’re going down/But the captain ain’t the one/ Look what he’s done/He’s running this ship aground.”
Said Harley in an e-mail message: “I wrote a song about Bush and don’t know what to do with it, other than let it go. I liked it so much I went right into the studio and recorded it, using some great musicians, and have put it on a Web page, where it can be downloaded for free as an mp3 file. Derek Burrows, musician, storyteller, Renaissance man and friend, has set up the Web page, and we’re beginning work on a video.”