Say the words "bar band," and some will conjure up images of marginal, semi-professional musicians butchering cover versions of overdone country chestnuts in some seedy roadhouse for 50 bucks a man, with free peanuts and a few free beers thrown in.
Truth is, though, that a good bar band that knows what it's doing can be a lot more interesting and, yeah, more fun to listen to than most of the sterile, sanitized studio sludge seeping out of Nashville these days. A lot of it is attitude, and the Michigan-based Tone Chaperones have plenty of that to spare. They have a tight, driving sound, heavy on the pedal steel (courtesy of Larry T. Bell), and while no one is gonna confuse lead singer C. Buggs Coombs with George Jones, he sells a song well enough to get by, and without all the Faith Hill-type bombast.
Coombs is also the writer for all 15 tracks on "Drinkin', Lyin'," gloriously wallowing in the meat-n-potatoes of country music with titles like "Empty Bottles," "D.U.I."and "Hey Rosie," an anthem to the Rockabilly Filly herself, Rosie Flores. It ain't Cole Porter, but it is hard core country (Box 341, Lawton, MI 49065, 616-624-2155)