Listening to Dag and the Bulleit Boys’ new long player, Bulleit Train, you get the feeling of dust in your hair, blood in your mouth and whiskey in your gut. You feel like starting a fight just on principal. Or taking your gal down to the local juke joint and dancing till they kick you outThis isn’t CMT country. This is rode-hard-and-put-away-wet Americana, country blues and gut-bucket folk. Here’s an album with a story or two to tell. If you buy the next round, maybe even more.
“I’ve Been Told’ starts the album out right. With a Johnny Cash “Folsum Prison Blues”-like swagger and some great pedal steel, old school advice and a country shuffle bring you into the world of juke joints, broken hearts and learning the hard way. “Honky Tonk Way” opens with the line, “F***ing and fighting, drinking and driving, that’s the honky tonk life.” No words are minced on this great track that brings the spirit of Bob Willis and the Texas Playboys front and center.
“Bulleit Train” is very reminiscent of classic Sun Records fare, be it Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash or Elvis Presley. It also brings to mind Jas Mathus and his Knockdown Society, ex-Squirrel Nut Zippers main man James Mathus’ post-Zippers Delta folk and blues project. “Back Off” almost has a “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” Thorogood vibe, had ol’ George been more influenced by Hank Williams and Merle Haggard than Bo Diddley and John Lee Hooker. “Back to the Bottle” has a laid back bluegrass feel with mandolin and subtle pedal steel. It’s great way to end this album full of bar stool wisdom and country folk hoedowns.
Too many times, modern artists making Americana music can come across as more novelty than true to the music’s roots. The lights are on in the round barn, but no one’s home. Fortunately for us, Dag and the Bulleit Boys are the real deal – real musicians dedicated to bringing back a truly American art form. Not worried about who may or may not be offended by their from-the-gut storytelling, they bring their country swing and folksy strumming straight from the heart and to our thirsty ears.
Let’s buy another round, ’cause these Bulleit Boys can go all night.
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A Christmas Carol
November 24 • Honeywell Center