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Redd Volkaert

Telewacker – 1998 (HMG/HighTone)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Redd Volkaert

Redd Volkaert, moonlighting here from his regular job as the lead guitarist of Merle Haggard's Strangers, mixes instrumentals and vocals on his debut. The non-instrumentals range from the straight country of "I Hate You" and "That Girl Who Waits on Tables" to the Ray Price shuffle of "Strangers" to the western swing of "Home in San Antone" and Volkaert's own "She Loves Anything That Swings." He sings with barrel-chested adequacy for the most part, but the album revolves more around his playing. On that count, it's more than adequate.

There's plenty of twanging and tone-bending from him and an equal measure of jazzy swing riffs from steel counterpart Jim Murphy, and their interchange and tradeoffs recall Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant. On "Stumbling" (a fine rendition, western swing-style, of an old jazz standard), "The Buck Stops Here" (chock full of referencing of Don Rich licks and Buckaroo tunes, it's an obvious tribute to Rich), "Redd, White and Blue," with its touch of Haggard soulfulness, and the title track, Volkaert's picking is superb. The only misstep is "It's a Minor Thing," a generic blues workout that sticks out like a sore thumb.