Hacienda Brothers: 'Arizona Motel'

Omaha Reader

Hoodoo Blues

by B.J. Huchtemann - Jun. 19-26, 2008

Prior to his diagnosis with liver cancer, Chris Gaffney had finished the vocal tracks for the Hacienda Brothers next CD, Arizona Motel (Proper Records). With the singer’s untimely passing in April, Arizona Motel becomes the final CD from this innovative band that mixed soul music, country and honky-tonk in a way that galvanized listeners.

The disc is the band’s third studio recording and does the best job of all their studio projects at capturing the pure, hard soul of Gaffney’s voice and the band’s rich instrumental interplay. Dale Daniel on drums, Hank Maninger on bass, David Berzansky’s poetic pedal steel guitar playing and Gaffney’s accordion riffs are joined by keyboard work from Joe Terry, longtime keyboard player for Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men. The songwriting is splendid, showcasing a lot of tunes from the Bros. co-founder and sizzling lead guitarist Dave Gonzalez.

Standout tracks where Gaffney’s vocal interpretations particularly shine include several tunes Dan Penn co-produced and two that Penn wrote (“Break Free”) or co-wrote with Gonzalez (“Use To The Pain.”) Dan Penn is known for his many great classic soul tunes like “I’m Your Puppet,” “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” and “The Dark End of the Street.” Gaffney’s vocals meld with Penn’s impeccable production on the very classic old-school soul reading of “Ordinary Fool.” Gaffney’s tune, “Soul Mountain,” is a hand-clappin’, boot-scootin’ gospel rave-up. Arizona Motel drops in stores on Tuesday, June 24.

Gonzalez will be touring this summer with a new band configuration to support the release. Local dates include The Sunday Roadhouse at Mick’s on Sunday, July 6, and performances July 10 and 11 as part
of the Zoo Bar’s 35th Anniversary.