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Bill Kirchen

Raise a Ruckus – 1999 (HighTone)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Bill Kirchen

Much of Bill Kirchen's latest is more Claptonesque than country, but it also has a few treats for country fans. The opening "Girlfriend," is a bluesy number with a bit of twang to it with Flaco Jimenez making a cameo on accordion. And the closing track, "Interstate," also has both blues and country appeal.

Kirchen's wife Louise wrote two of the more traditional country tunes. "Big Hat/No Cattle" is classic western swing, and "Dream World" is a nice country ballad. Clay Blaker co-wrote the excellent "Let the Fire Burn Out," a cheatin' song one can easily imagine Ray Price recording, as well as the mainstream sounding "My Heart Has a Mind of it's Own."

Some of Kirchen's many influences are examined in "Flip Flop," in which Kirchen tells us of being inspired by seeing Professor Longhair, the Stanley Brothers and Buck Owens and the Buckaroos in his youth. Interestingly, the tune does not mirror those artists stylistically as his solo is more reminiscent of James Burton than the Stanleys or Don Rich.

Though this lacks continuity, all tracks are good, and Kirchen is a first rate picker. And there's just enough on here to leave country fans hoping Kirchen will further explore the western swing and traditional country touched on here on future projects.