Wayne Hancock isn't one of those alt-country stars to whom roots-music fans turn for the red-blooded emotion so many tin-eared grouches insist is missing from Nashville-produced radio fodder. On A-Town Blues, Hancock's most recent studio album, Wayne "The Train" Hancock sings, "I'm sorry, darlin', that I hurt you so/I don't wanna hear you cry, so I'll just tell you goodbye"; I believe him--a weeping-willow slide guitar underlines the sentiment--but I've also gotten more warmth from a Radiohead record. Instead, what Hancock offers is a preservationist pastiche of outmoded country styles that doesn't eschew the lifelike dynamism so many museum pieces do. Hancock calls his tasty microbrew "juke joint swing," a handle I have no problem accepting. He starts from a foundation of traditional Bob Wills-style Western swing, but piles up all kinds of stuff on top: hard-edged honky-tonk guitar, big-band brass reports, jazz-club bass grooves. On Thursday the Silverleaf will most likely be rocking. Definitely bother knocking.
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