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Johnny Bush

Honkytonic – 2004 (BGM)

Reviewed by Tom Geddie

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CDs by Johnny Bush

Johnny Bush is teaching a whole new generation of listeners how to respect honky-tonk songs. Here, he even lets a few play along. Independent Texas singer-songwriters Tommy Alverson, Kevin Fowler, Stephanie Urbina Jones and Matt Martindale of Cooder Graw duet with Bush. As does old friend Willie Nelson on either the umpteenth version of Bush's moneymaker "Whiskey River."

Since getting voice problems under control, Bush has also recorded with Dale Watson and Cornell Hurd on their own CDs, and performed with Pat Green, Cross Canadian Ragweed, and others of the youthful persuasion. "Honkytonic" finds him in fine form on the consistently good tears-in-your-beer songs, with all of their sincerity and word play that remain his staple.Highlights include the winking "Leave My Mama Out of This," a polite way of asking his exasperated wife to not call him an SOB when he comes dragging into the house way too late; "Jones on the Jukebox," the Alverson duet that turns into a playful rendering of George Jones' lyrics; and "Puttin' Out an Old Flame (one tear at a time)." Bush's duet with Nelson on "Whiskey River" - it's rare that Nelson doesn't open his own shows with that song - is the first time they've ever recorded it together.

Time may have passed, but old friends remain and new friends come along in Johnny Bush's straight-ahead honky-tonk world where the lessons are always lyrical. (BMG, 8806 Lockway, San Antonio, TX 78217, BGM)