By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
The best result of the Crenshaws' short-lived club was Amy Crenshaw and the Crosstown Boys. They met drummer David Falk and bassist David Bennett when they both played at the Lava Lounge, with Kim Lenz and Max Stevens, respectively. After the club closed in early 1998, the Crenshaws were both ready to pick up where they had left off when they had to choose between the Lava Lounge and their band; and in Falk and Bennett, they had found willing accomplices. Well, that's not entirely true: They wanted to pick up where they left off, but they were ready to drop Hank & Patsy.
Hank & Patsy -- a name and a sound based on the idea of Hank Williams and Patsy Cline performing duets -- was surprisingly successful. The Crenshaws hadn't meant for anything to really come of the project, but the group stuck around almost seven years, becoming more serious as it went on. Hank & Patsy even sold a song to Warner Bros. for inclusion in a made-for-TV movie about Marina Oswald starring Helena Bonham Carter, 1993's Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald. The band provided Amy with good memories, but she and Mitchell both wanted to broaden their scope when the time came to be in a band again.
"We got a lot of mileage out of that band," Crenshaw says. "We had a bass player who was also a gaffer for local movie productions, and he got us a gig with a made-for-television movie that was filmed here for David Wolper Productions. It was a pretty bad show, unfortunately, but it seems to play an awful lot, so we get those little pennies dribbling in. That was a thrill, and we got to go to South by Southwest and play at the Continental Club. We wrote some good songs, but as far as Amy Crenshaw and the Crosstown Boys, I was really ready to shed my layers and do something completely different, and do something with more vocals."
Amy Crenshaw and the Crosstown Boys reflects that desire, putting Crenshaw's vocals front and center in the mix. The disc doesn't move that far away from Hank & Patsy's trad-country leanings -- there's even a cover of Cline's "Sweet Dreams" -- though it does pick up the pace quite a bit, thanks to lead guitarist and producer Alan Wooley, late of Killbilly and the Cartwrights. Crenshaw says she had wanted to work with Wooley since she moved to Dallas from Manhattan in the late 1980s. After the Crosstown Boys quickly went through their original guitarist, Crenshaw found herself with that chance, and Wooley ended up writing or co-writing nine of the album's 13 tracks.
Having Wooley as a songwriting partner allows the Crenshaws to avoid one of the main problems that occurs when a couple is in the same band together: competitiveness. But to hear Amy explain it, they'd probably even find a way around that if they had to.
"It gets better every day," she says. "I met Mitchell through his brother, because I knew Marshall way back in the late '70s in New York City, and I always knew I would want my very own Crenshaw." She laughs. "It just took a while for me to find the one that was available."