On Sunday night (7-12-09) I was giddy as a schoolgirl in anticipation of watching Wayne “The Train” Hancock and Joe Buck on the same night in Grand Junction, CO, but I had no idea that I was walking into “Johny Wrong’s 1st Annual Honky Tonk Hootenanny” featuring a total of FIVE bands, all with the talent to fill the whole night on their own. What would transpire would be one of the best nights of country and rockabilly music I have seen in recent memory.
First up was the rockabilly band Mad Max & The Wild Ones, and even taking into consideration that two of my favorite artists were playing later in the night, this was the highlight of the evening for me. I hate to fall back on this saying, but you just had to be there. Pictures, words, even YouTube’s do not do this band justice live.
Mad Max & The Wild Ones is made up of three sons and their dad. The front man is a third grader. The drummer is in middle school. Normally I’m not one to fall prey to this kind of shtick. In fact, a lot of times this is a turnoff for me. But even if this band was made up of grown ass men, they still would have knocked my socks off. They were that good!
The band was started by the oldest son and lead guitar player Wyatt, who even taught his dad how to play the upright bass. The youngest son Duke is an absolute riot on stage, and though a 3rd graders voice is sometimes hard to appreciate, he sang right on pitch, never flubbed a lyric, and had an energy and stage presence way beyond his years, strumming rhythm guitar and playing a little harmonica too. Wayne Hancock even creeped out from back stage and sat in the first row, and I saw him on a number of occasions shaking his head in disbelief at the talent of these kids.
But truly the show stealer is the middle son Cole Maxwell on the drums:
This kid is SICK!~
If you ever get a chance to see these kids live, you must do it. The thing about kids is they get older (sage wisdom from the Triggerman). Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, the merch girl is momma, and she is SMOKIN’!
Next up was Ethyl & the Regulars, an old school country/rockabilly band from Denver. These guys could have come out and played standing on their heads and they still would have been a draw down from Mad Max, but they were a super tight, highly skilled band with good original songs. They finished their set with an excellent rendition of Hank Williams “Kaw-Liga”, and this was one on the highlights of the whole night for me. Picked up their CD as well, and might have a review for you in the future.
After them was Halden Wofford & the Hi-Beams. They were a rocking, new school old school band with lots of energy and very witty original songs. Whenever a band busts out the stand up steel guitar as opposed to the pedal steel, you know they’re going to bring it. My favorite songs were “Hippie in My House” and “Yodeling Rhythm and Blues”, and Halden Wofford is a great front man with a sort of Dwight Yoakum-ish stage presence. Halden has even wrote a children’s book called The Long Gone Lonesome History of Country Music which I will be checking out.
Whoever said REAL country music isn’t for the whole fam damily? In fact, that was one of the coolest things about this night: it felt like a family night. With Mad Max & The Wild Ones starting the night off, and then hanging around all night dancing to the other bands, Johny Wrong’s kids running around the place all night, and just the general laid back easy going mood of the whole thing made for a great night for watching music.
To read part two with Joe Buck and Wayne Hancock, CLICK HERE