Redd Volkaert - No Stranger To A Tele
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No Stranger To A Tele (HighTone, 2001)

Redd Volkaert

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

Merle Haggard tours with a pretty big band these days, but back in the 1960's and early 1970's, it was a lean ensemble that created his signature sound on live performances. It's that stripped-down sound that Redd Volkaert goes after - and gets - on his second solo release, and it should be no surprise; the burly Telecaster slinger has been playing lead for Haggard since 1997.

With his fellow Strangers Norm Hamlett (pedal steel) and Johnnie Barber (drums) along for the ride, Volkaert does a wonderful job of recreating the classic jazzed-up Bakersfield sound of 30 years ago on a number of original instrumentals as well as a delicate version of Haggard's "Forget You Every Day." On others, he opts for rockabilly or blues stylings, at which he is equally adept.

As a singer, Volkaert has a great ear for material, but the album's five vocals (including classics such as "Big, Big Love" and "End Of The Line") aren't its strongest attraction; he's a competent vocalist but no more. Still, this has a big, big dose of fine picking, and if you're already familiar with Redd's work with Haggard and want to hear him on his own, you'll be more than satisfied.

CDs by Redd Volkaert

Reddhead, 2008

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