The legendary Big Bill Broonzy once said, “Blues is a natural fact, is something that a fellow lives. If you don’t live it, you don’t have it.” Although his new album Ride isn’t the classic blues of Big Bill, Muddy or B.B., enduring honky tonk powerhouse Wayne “The Train” Hancock has made an album of a similar attitude, and with enough grit and hardluck narrative to validate his own unique brand of cathartic blue-collar escapism.
Produced by Wayne and his longtime producer/collaborator Lloyd Maines (Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Dixie Chicks, Joe Ely), Ride further cements Wayne’s life-long calling [“All I want to do is play the Joints ‘til the day I die”] as a modern-day traditionalist through his signature mélange of roadhouse blues, hepcat boogie, rockabilly, and juke joint swing. As Hank III once said, “Wayne Hancock has more Hank Sr. in him than either I or Hank Williams Jr. He is the real deal.” Ride is built on a vibe that is at once more direct and personal than those of his previous Bloodshot releases Viper of Melody (2009), Tulsa (2006), Swing Time (2003), and A-Town Blues (2001). “The album is an organic reaction to life’s challenges … these are not sad songs,” the South TX native said of his 8th overall album and 5th for Bloodshot.
Since his stunning debut, Thunderstorms and Neon Signs in 1995, Wayne “The Train” Hancock has been the undisputed king of Juke Joint Swing--that alchemist’s dream of honky-tonk, western swing, blues, Texas rockabilly and big band. Always an anomaly among his country music peers, Wayne’s uncompromising interpretation of the music he loves is in fact what defines him: steeped in traditional but never "retro;" bare bones but bone shaking; hardcore but with a swing. Like the comfortable crackle of a Wurlitzer 45 jukebox, Wayne is the embodiment of genuine, house rocking, hillbilly boogie.
Wayne makes music fit for any road house anywhere. With his unmistakable voice, The Train’s reckless honky-tonk can move the dead. If you see him live (and he is ALWAYS touring), you’ll surely work up some sweat stains on that snazzy Rayon shirt you’re wearing. If you buy his records, you’ll be rolling up your carpets, spreading sawdust on the hardwood, and dancing until the downstairs neighbors are banging their brooms on the ceiling. Call him a throwback if you want, Wayne just wants to ENTERTAIN you, and what's wrong with that? Wayne's disdain for the slick swill that passes for real deal country is well known. Like he's fond of saying: "Man, I'm like a stab wound in the fabric of country music in Nashville. See that bloodstain slowly spreading? That's me."