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Gin Palace Jesters

Honky Tonk Fools – 2005 (Rhythm Bomb)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Gin Palace Jesters

Used to be, way back before there were videos, CMT and arena tours, the best way - and for many, the only way - to experience live country music was the roadhouse out beyond the edge of town, a one-room dive with chicken wire strung in front of the stage and surrounded by an acre or three of gravel parking lot. The Chicago-based Gin Palace Jesters are almost literally a throwback to that era of four-piece (guitar, steel, acoustic bass and drums), honky tonk bands that a generation danced and fought to.

Though some of these bands were content to be "cover" bands, the Jesters feature a couple of writers in guitarist Dave Sissons and steel player Buddy Carter who have the genre down so stone-cold that Hank Thompson might wonder aloud why they weren't around 50 years ago to write a few for him.

A check through a few of the 15 titles on this debut give a pretty clear idea where they're coming from: "Pink Champagne (& a Chevy Caprice)," "Drunk All My Troubles Away," "Drink One For Me," "18 Days & 18 Wheels."

Enough fun to listen to, you may think you're back in the front row of your favorite "gin palace," up against the chicken wire - just don't forget to duck. (Rhythm Bomb, Box 730922, D-22129 Hamburg, Germany, Gin Palace Jesters)