If the fate of cowboy swing rested solely on singer-guitarist Wayne Hancock's shoulders, there'd be nothing to worry about for a good long while. Many artists embrace a musical style, but Wayne "The Train" seems to have internalized his. A nasal vocal twang just this side of Hank Sr.'s and a song-crafting style in the mold of vintage Western swing (with the periodic nod to rockabilly) are Hancock's calling cards. Add a smokin' backup band that plays by the same rules, and you get a sound to which "retro" doesn't quite do justice.
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Hancock, a thirtyish ex-Marine, earned his chops playing in rural Texas bars as a teenager and, once out of the service, established himself in the early-'90s Austin scene. He garnered good press for his singing in Chippy, a 1994 stage play set in West Texas, and debuted on CD to critical acclaim with 1995's Thunderstorms and Neon Signs. Hancock's command of the Western lexicon made for material strong enough to stand alongside classics of the genre rather than just echo them. His latest, Swing Time, is a "live" set recorded in Austin. Judging by the onstage company he keeps there, the excitement won't stop with the vocals when he hits town. Cowboys and Indians open.