Butch Hancock comes to The Center
Along with Lubbock bred childhood pals Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock has been active in their group work as The Flatlanders. They have appeared on Letterman and Imus in the Morning. He is a member of the Buddy Holly Walk of Fame and the Texas Music Hall of Fame.
Own and Own, released in 1991, contains his “If I Were a Bluebird” made popular by Emmylou Harris. His songs have also been recorded by Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker. He and buddies Ely and Gilmore have also all recorded each other songs and played on each other’s albums.
Own the Way Over Here is considered by some to be his best album. It is a collection and showcase of some of his best songs. Like many other musicians in Austin in the 70s and 80s, Hancock acknowledges Townes Van Zandt as an influence on his work.
Butch Hancock’s self-produced War and Peace, his first solo CD in almost nine years, meets face to face with the mountains of lies that appear to be rising higher and higher all around us and all inside us, and reminds us: The times they are still a’changin’. From the riveting acapella opener, a call-for-peace/prayer/warning/urge-to-compassion, to the final cut, a seven-minute plus get-out-the-vote anthem which would set Woody Guthrie, Willie Dixon and Mississippi John Hurt dancing proudly in their graves, Hancock, the impeccable lyricist, pulls no metaphorical punches as he questions all kinds of authority: Overt, covert, exterior, interior, imagined, and unimagined.
His voice, still warm and scratchy after all these years, blends with his own harmonies and those of his long time running buddies, Fellow Flatlanders Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, who join Butch with harmonies on “The Master Game” and “Cast the Devils Out.” Butch’s new melodies are as memorable as the Guthrie-ish “borrowings” of melodies on “Cast the Devils Out” and “Great Election Day,” and on “Toast” he echoes the dreamlike would-be spiritual perceptions we could all lay claim to on any given late-night drinking occasion. What’s more, it’s done to the accompaniment of old timey banjo and cathedral organ! Of the relentlessly rocking “Old Man, Old Man,” Austin guitarist Charlie Sexton was heard to exclaim, “Man, that’s so 60’s … it’s like … The Doors! I love it!” Billy Joe Shaver’s favorite is “When the Good and the Bad Get Ugly,” and Butch dedicates “Road Map for the Blues” to the late Clifford Antone who made him play it repeatedly in the backstage of Antone’s blues club in Austin.
Butch plays over a dozen instruments on this finely mixed CD (mixed by the amazing Chet Himes). And though he claims that the only other picker (Flatlander guitarist Rob Gjersoe) “adds the real touch of class” to the arrangements, a single listening to these songs reveals surprises and a continuity that … calls for many repeats!
Musician is not the only hat Butch Hancock wears. He has a degree in architecture, and is active in leading rafting and adventure tours in Big Bend that feature nightly concerts.
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