By Gary E. McKee
Fifty years in the making! After playing music together since they were knee high to a ukulele, The Pettit Brothers (TPB) have released their first full-length studio CD. Backed by a seasoned group of studio musicians the TPB takes listeners on a journey from a mournful country blues ballad to a rollicking, buck-dancing bluegrass party, with a stop off at a honky tonk for a couple of cold ones to ease the pain of lost love.
White Freight Liner Blues: TPB captures the driving bluegrass feel of this song while the fiddle and guitar signals the wide open highway. Lonnie’s voice while not attempting the high notes that Townes Van Zandt sometimes attempted, captures the weariness and restlessness of the man going out on the highway to listen the big trucks whine and haul away his mind from his troubles.
Driving Nails in My Coffin: This is Ernest Tubb’s 1944 ode to excessive beer consumption over the loss of a woman. The steady lockstep of Brian Lux’s stand-up bass and drummer Terry Kirkendall pushes the band along in a delightful gallop, while steel guitarist Nathan Fleming’s prowess on old-school steel provides a counterpoint to the gallop. Lonnie is picking his mandolin as only Lonnie can.
Hold Watcha Got: TPB’s rendition of a song recounting an attempt to rekindle a relationship captures the feel of the ‘King of Bluegrass” Jimmie Martin’s original recording. Sean Orr’s fiddle kicks off a shuffle punctuated by the rhythm system allowing Darryl Pettit’s self-assured plea to his woman to wait for him to come back home to wring true.
Why You Been Gone So Long: A relatively new song written by Micky Newberry begins with Brian’s thumping bass drawing the rest of the band into a bouncy song with Darryl’s inquiring twang and Larry Wilson’s guitar plucking.
I Still Miss Someone: TPB takes you back to Johnny Cash’s lament from the 1950s, as Lonnie’s sad regret of a love lost brings a tear to your eye and the need for a beer for it to fall into. Wilson’s interpretation of Luther Perkin’s signature spare guitar work does the job quite nicely.
Trouble in Mind: TPB’s rendition of this 1924 blues song is given the bluegrass treatment with Lonnie’s mandolin complementing Darry’s weary, yet hopeful lyrics.
Dark Hollow: An old-school bluegrass song about a fellow who would rather be anywhere else besides the now empty house that his woman left him in. Sean’s fiddle and George Carver’s harmonica add sparkle to this sad song.
Way Downtown: Doc Watson’s classic bluegrass song with Sean’s inspiring “hoedown” fiddle break ties in with Darryl’s strong guitar work in this fun song.
‘Til the Coast is Clear: Hal Ketchum/Fred Koller’s song of a honky-tonk with all the ingredients of the drinking, smoking, and marital misdeeds associated with them. Carver’s gorgeous resonator guitar with Sean’s relaxed, yet precise fiddling sets the stage for this cheatin’ song.
You Done Me Wrong: Sean’s unique voice and the band’s true to the original Cajun arrangement makes it hard to miss this song by two guys named Ray Price and George Jones. Larry Wilson’s rhythm playing keeps this jaunty song bouncing along.
Bottom Dollar: Lonnie’s vocal captures the feeling of a guy who is down to pocket change, but it’s not the first time, and he realizes it’s his own doing. Nathan Fleming’s steel guitar licks echoes the vocals familiar weariness on this Billy Joe Shaver classic.
Old Home Place: Lonnie’s declaration of self-sorrow over what his life has become after his woman run off closes out this fulfilling band of songs. This 1970s bluegrass classic is given a faithful treatment by the whole band as Lonnie’s voice carries the song like the geese fly south and the wind blows cold.
You can see and hear TPB almost every Wednesday night at Sengelmann’s Saloon in Schulenburg, and weekends playing in honky tonks from Austin to Houston. For a schedule, buying the CD, and more, check out pettitbrothers.com.