Kansas City Blues News

January 2001

 

“Blues Reviews”

Reviewed by Chuck Pisano

Host of “The Blues Kitchen”

90.1FM – KKFI

 

 

December 31, 2001 marked the twentieth anniversary since the Nace Brothers first played together.  After one listen to their latest release, “Trouble On The Hill” it was quite apparent to me that time has aged this band like a fine wine.  They just keep getting better.

 

From Warrensburg, Missouri, brothers Dave (lead vocals & drums) and Jimmy (lead guitar & vocals) have blazed a musical trail first set forth by their father, Johnny Nace.  Johnny had two regional hits in 1968 and toured with Carl Perkins and Buck Owens among others.

 

Rounding out the band is original member Tim Williams (bass & fiddle) and T.J. Erhardt (keyboards & accordion) who joined the band in 1996.  Together, they have produced their fourth and strongest release to date.  Mixing Roots Rock, Blues, and Country, “Trouble On The Hill” delivers on all counts.

 

The opening track “Miss Arzetta” is classic Nace Bros.  Fueled by Dave Nace’s aggressive yet soulful vocals, this tune sets the tone with a strong hook, top-notch instrumentals, and a melody that will have you hummin’ to yourself well after the song is over.  The bluesey “Going Down Slow” creates the feel of being in a small smokey club late into the night, “Moonlight kept me up all night – So bright, I put my dark glasses on – It’s crazy I know, but I’m going down slow”.  Dave’s whiskey-soaked vocals and Jimmy’s gritty yet tasteful guitar work, complement each other perfectly on this one.

 

 “Be That Strong” is a country rock ballad at it’s finest that features some nice piano work by T.J. Erhardt, that reminds me a bit of Billy Payne of “Little Feat”.  For some down in the delta “swamp rock blues” give “Suicide Dawg” a listen.  It features some hot and nasty slide guitar by Jimmy that will have you “poppin’ a cold one” by the songs end. 

 

Jimmy Nace wrote all but one song on this release, and his storytelling reflects the maturity of a seasoned songwriter on “The Ballad of Lizzie Heard”.  This song tells the story of a small town girl standing trial for murder, “Now the jury deliberates, Altie waits in fear – when they laid poor Lizzie in her grave, she didn’t shed a tear.  All the people they didn’t agree, they just were not convinced. When the judge said, “Not Guilty”, on the grounds of self- defense”.  Tim Williams expert fiddle playing and some tasty mandolin performed by special guest Mick Luerhman, paint the perfect backdrop for this rootsy ballad.

 

The final track, “Watch the Sun Rise” is a gem.  It features an appearance by the “Cate Brothers”, (Ernie & Earl) from Fayetteville, AK. who lend support on vocals, keyboards and guitar.  This is a slow soulful number about waking up and watching the sun rise alone, after a long night of drinkin’ at the local tavern.  Dave and Ernie sing this one with such heartfelt emotion that it may cause you to spill a couple of tears in your shot of Jack Daniels.

 

The Nace Brothers have built a strong following in the mid-west as well as gaining increasing popularity around the country.  "Trouble On The Hill” easily makes my “top ten” list of local releases for 2001, and I highly recommend you catch what many consider “the best bar band around” live when they are in town.  Their music can be purchased at the Music Exchange and online at www.nacebros.com.

 

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