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Various Artists

The Texas Reunion – 1999 (Skinny)

Reviewed by Len Brown

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From the first notes, this compilation transports you to a Texas dance hall with a variety of musical Lone Star styles. The musicians and vocalists represent some of Austin's finest, revisiting a great collection of classic country numbers.

"Skinny Don" Keeling, a 40-year veteran of the local scene, opens with the first of his three cuts, a Texas swing number, Tex Ritter's "Cowtown." Relative newcomer, Justin Trevino caresses a Johnny Bush shuffle, "Loud Music And Strong Wine." Don Walser carries yodeling into the millennium on "Green Snakes On The Ceiling" and "Columbus Stockade Blues." Sherri Barr Walker does an outstanding song, "The Other Girl In Town" along with a country-blues number written by late, legendary steel guitarist Jimmy Day.

The musicianship is without peer, thanks to Floyd Domino on piano, Howard Kalish on fiddle and former George Strait drummers Phil Farjado and Phil Fisher. Day teams with Scott Walls on '50's classic "Just Out Of Reach." Steel guitar never sounded more mournful or beautiful. The session guitarists all come from strong stock having played for Merle Haggard, Johnny Bush, Hank Thompson and Asleep At The Wheel.

Twelve varied tracks on the album and proudly not one could see the light of day on any HNC radio station. Projects like this, from small independent labels keep the fires of real country burning in the heart of Texas and beyond. (Skinny Records, 707 Jetta Court, Austin, TX 78753, 512-836-1224)