THE READER | by B.J. Huchtemann October 14-20, 2004

Simmering Southwestern Soul

The Paladins' Dave Gonzalez and Southern California singer-songwriter Chris Gaffney share a love of country, blues and soul music. The two have joined forces in a new project called the Hacienda Brothers, playing music that's been described as "honky-tonk soul."

Local roots fans need no introduction to Dave Gonzalez. His rockabilly band the Paladins is a standing-room-only favorite in the metro. On the haciendabrothers.com website, Gonzalez wrote, "For years I've been writing 'country' and 'soul' songs that don't always 'fit' into the Paladins plan that easily. ...All this stuff I could never (or hardly) do with 'the Pals,' works great for 'the Bros."

Based in Nashville, Tenn., songwriter Dan Penn was wowed enough by the Hacienda Brothers to collaborate with them o new tunes to complete their debut album. The Brothers hope to release the disc by the end of this year. Penn is known for classics like "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man," Dark End of the Street" and "I'm Your Puppet."

The new Penn compositions mix with others originals and well-chosen covers to create a ripping live show. Hearing Chris Gaffney launch into Fred Neil's great 1960s ballad "I've Got a Secret" will stop you in your tracks: Gaffney's deep, rich voice provides just the right confessional tone for the poetic lyrics. Gaffney is best-known locally for his work as on of Dave Alvin's sidemen (accordion and acoustic guitar), but in Southern California, Gaffney is legendary for his own songwriting and band the Cold Hard Facts. Last year, he was named the No. 2 artist in the OC Weekly's "129 Greatest OC Bands Ever!"

The musical framework of the Hacienda Brothers' music may not be blues, but it is pure blues at its honky-tonk heart. They were a favorite of 2004 South by Southwest-goers.

The band's southwestern soul will simmer for three big nights at Lincoln's Zoo Bar. Catch them there Thursday through Saturday, Oct.21 to 23. On Sunday, Oct. 24, the band gigs at Omaha's Crescent Moon for another Sunday Roadhouse presentation. The Moon show starts at 5p.m. and advance tickets are available while they last. Their Omaha show sold out in March.