Hacienda Brothers are feeling right at home in the Old Pueblo
Over the years, Tucson has spawned and nurtured a vibrant music scene. Now it has become the surrogate home for a nationally touring band.
The Hacienda Brothers have toured the country with their blend of classic country honkytonk and 1960s soul, and though the band isn't based in Tucson, its management is here, it recorded its debut album here and one of the frontmen - guitarist Dave Gonzalez - is planning to move here.
"We just love it out here in Tucson," Gonzalez said in a phone interview during a visit to Tucson. "The feeling of the Hacienda sound is a full-on Tucson, Southwestern honky-tonk sound with Southwestern soul."
The two Hacienda Brothers frontmen are both longtime professional musicians in their own right. Acoustic guitar and accordion player Chris Gaffney has fronted his own band, the Cold Hard Facts, for the past 25 years and tours as one of Dave Alvin's Guilty Men. Gonzalez is a producer and the primary singer and songwriter for the rockabilly trio the Paladins.
For more than a decade, local music veteran Jeb Schoonover of Honky-Tonk Hacienda had been encouraging the two musicians to join forces to create a blend of roots, blues, country and soul with a Southwestern tang. It took until 2003 for both busy SoCal musicians to get serious about it because they were both touring extensively and doing well with their other projects, Gonzalez said.
"It's hard to jump off the wagon when it's rolling pretty good," he said.
It was his love of classic country that finally drove him to give the Hacienda Brothers an honest shot. Now the band has become his priority.
"I was always trying to get the Palidins to do more country stuff," Gonzalez said. "I get tired of being in a trio and being limited musically and creatively. With the Hacienda Brothers instrumentation, which is a five piece with steel guitar, it's like a whole new world and a weight is lifted off my shoulders. Now I can write and I can work with these guys and there's no limitation. It's just pure music. We can do a full-on soul tune, we can write a country tune, we can do whatever we want and we can pull it off."
The band toured nationally last year without having an album, but that's changed this week with the release of the band's eponymous debut album, produced by legendary producer and songwriter Dan Penn.
Penn labeled the music "Western soul," and indeed the album reflects Tucson in many ways, from the soulful song "Looking for Loneliness," which Gonzalez and Penn wrote out in the desert, to "Saguaro," an instrumental tribute to the band's second home.
You can get a chance to pick up the new album and hear the Hacienda Brothers live Wednesday before they set out for a tour that will take them through Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and California. This is the beginning of a new chapter for the band, which has a deal with Koch Records for three albums over the next two years.
"It's just a dream come true," Gonzalez said, "because this sound and this concept has been in all of our hearts for so long."