Black Music Matters Festival

Two Dollar Pistols

Step Right Up – 1998 (Yep Roc)

Reviewed by Rick Teverbaugh

CDs by Two Dollar Pistols

For those who think real country is about getting women, being mistreated and misunderstood by women, losing women and all that to the accompaniment of drinking, then this is the band and album of the year. Chapel Hill, N.C.'s Two Dollar Pistols capture all the live excitement of a honky tonk band playing honky tonk songs in a honky tonk with this 13-song outing.

It's not that there's anything wrong with honky tonk, but when the subject matter is this narrow the appeal can be extremely limited. The group revolves around John Howie, who sings most songs, playing guitar and had a hand in writing five songs. The personnel now is even stronger than on last year's debut "On Down The Track," due in a large part to the addition of lead guitarist Steve Howell, formerly of The Backsliders. John Neff of the Drive-By Truckers, adds pedal steel.

Highlights are "Hello Trouble," "Me, Myself And Wine" and "Bring The Heartbreak." Two Dollar Pistols might not be for all tastes as they make no pretense of being anything but country. Yet, there is strong appeal here that comes largely from the honesty and love of the genre that comes through on each and every cut.