Rich Kienzle tells the story that during Bob Wills first recording session in 1935 producer Art Satherly stopped everything and chastised Wills for whooping and yelling in the middle of a song. After threatening to pack it up and go home, Wills said, “You hired Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys and Bob Wills hollers anytime he feels like it and says whatever he wants to say!”
That is why Waylon Jennings wrote the words: Bob Wills is still the king.
“What Makes Bob Holler,” the latest album from a favorite band of mine, The Hot Club of Cowtown, isn’t so much a question as a statement followed by fourteen examples. As with all the Wills tributes in the world, and Lordy there’s a few, some old favorites show up: “Time Changes Everything,” “Stay A Little Longer,” “Maiden’s Prayer,” “Faded Love,” and “Big Balls In Cowtown.” Now, that’s not a bad thing, they are old favorites for a very good reason. These are great songs, elastic, breathable, and fresh sounding in Hot Club’s hands.
There’s some surprises here too, “Keeper of My Heart,” “The Devil Ain’t Lazy,” and “Smith’s Reel” are standouts. The Hot Club isn’t out to change the world here, or reinvent the wheel, or worse, strip the songs down to slow acoustic weepers that show off the words. No, these are dance tunes, and they are a dance band. Too bad it’s not really a dancing world anymore. With a oh-so-fine album like this, it’s really our loss.
Shine your shoes. Put on a nice shirt. Pick a girl. Fast-Fast-Slow-Slow. That’s all there is. Ah-ha!