Do you like old country? Want a few tears, a few beers, and maybe a little dark corner introspection? Maybe even throw in a few twosteps with a new honey? Spin this disc then and you won’t be sorry. Hailing from the rolling hills of the central Midwest, the Rockhouse Ramblers evoke a sense of honky tonks with wood bars, wood floors, mirrors, and bathrooms where men try to sneak out the windows. No southern juke joint concrete floors. Bud in bottles. No cans. Somehow hollow body guitar licks need an urban space to really soar. Mixed up here is country, rockabilly, a little swing. Think Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys, but less swing and more twang. Torch and twang, light on the torch.
Spliced together with the likes of Jay Farrar’s brother Dade, songwriting maestro Kip Loui from local legend Belle Starr, John Horton (Mike Ireland and Holler), Gary Hunt (The Hayshakers), and Danny Kathriner (Wagon), the Rockhouse Ramblers look backwards to the country of the 1940s and 1950s to yank at your heartstrings and pour beer and liquor down your throat (to keep the tears at bay, of course). You’ll hear lots of George Jones here, mixed up with a little Roy Orbison and Elvis. This is alt-country, but not in the more progressive vain of the socialist country of the Waco Brothers or the cran-fueled corn-punk of Scroatbelly. Fans of Bloodshot style alt-country might find the Rockhouse Ramblers tame at times, or maybe not quite tongue-in-cheek enough. But somehow with less self-consciousness, the Rockhouse Ramblers make a kind of country that lets you know it’s 2000, yet the tunes on the jukebox might be really really old. The Rockhouse Ramblers make country that I could cry to, stand at the bar by, drink by, drive fast with, or maybe two-step with a stranger, staring over her shoulder picturing my first wife before she left me for that broad chested 22-year-old she met at How-dees when I was off at a trade show for vacuum cleaner parts.
Bar Time is thoroughly enjoyable. This CD makes me want to dust off my cowboy boots and find myself someplace to drink longnecks. I want pickup trucks, not Harleys at that bar. I want Bud, or better, Schlitz.