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Ethyl & the Regulars

Fill 'Er Up with Ethyl and the Regulars – 2009 (Cow Island Music)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Ethyl & the Regulars

Small combo Western swing, honky-tonk shuffles mixed with a smart taste of rockabilly courtesy of Ethyl & the Regulars provides definitive, danceable proof that sawdust-on-the-floor style country music ain't dead yet.

The 16-song set boasts a dozen original tunes written in the mid-'50s country style including the snappy Long Gone, Long Forgotten, twangy Let's Pretend, and waltz-tempo'd lament, The Waitress Song. Flexible within their chosen genre, the quintet brings in fiddler Jean Balhorn to fashion authentic swing on Big As Texas and the humorous talking hillbilly blues of Trouble. Blessed with clever in-group songsmiths, their fresh material actually outshines revved up renditions of such standards as Knee Deep in the Blues and Cash on the Barrelhead.

Moreover, the Regulars have much to offer instrumentally. Tim Whitlock's beautiful pedal steel work plays fluidly off Hank Hays's Bakersfield-drenched electric guitar, while Donnie Jerome's upright bass keeps the proceedings firmly in the barn dance groove. Since nobody named Ethyl is actually in the group, the vocals switch back and forth between guitarist/producer Hays and Jeff Yeary. Relying mainly on down home zeal, neither demonstrates much range.

However, this unpretentious outfit never pretends to be more than what they are - a tight, completely entertaining bar band reveling in their deftly executed retro sounds.