Heybale! : The Last Country Album

heybale_last_country.jpgThough Heybale! may not be a well known name, members of the band are counted among the most sought-after talent in Nashville.  Lead guitarist Redd Volkaert earned a Grammy nomination for Best Country Instrumental Performance for his work with Brad Paisley in 2004, after a long stint alongside Merle Haggard in the ‘90s.  Pianist Earl Poole Ball also performed with Haggard, as well as Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Gram Parsons. He also played on The Byrds seminal country-rock record “Sweetheart of the Rodeo.”

Though lesser-known, bassist Kevin Smith was an original member of renowned rockabilly act High Noon, and also tours with Dwight Yoakam, while drummer Tom Lewis has toured with Junior Brown, Hank Thompson, and Raul Malo. Meanwhile, vocalist Gary Claxton may not yet be a household name, though he is regarded by many in Austin, Texas as the city’s best country singer-songwriter. 

Claxton takes turns with Volkaert and Ball in writing and singing the songs found on The Last Country Album, featuring original tracks that would sound at home on a Willie Nelson or Tom T. Hall record.  Though the band covers songs by both of those artists, they are at their best when performing their original numbers, particularly the instrumental “Heybalin’,” which was written by their friend and guest fiddle player Erik Hokkanen just minutes before the studio sessions began. 

A virtual country super-group who loves to light up dance floors with some of the finest honky-tonk being played today, Heybale’s! The Last Country Album features good old-fashioned tales of drink’, cheatin’ and hard luck tunes that are sure to sound every bit as classic ten years from now as they do today.

The Last Country Album is out now on Shuffle5 Records.