Jackson Taylor Band
Hollow Eyed & Wasted
By Jud Block
Before I get too far into
this, there's a slight error I feel I need to rectify. I have to admit
it's been weighing a little heavy on me for a while; now, don't go
getting skittish on me here, I'm no Augustine, and this particular
confession won't be enlightening or insightful, just cathartic for yours
truly. About a year ago I came across a CD called Gypsies & Drifters
by some group called the Jackson Taylor Band. I liked the title's Outlaw
connotations, so I put it on and was thrilled to discover a diamond in
the compost pile. From beginning to end the disc was a brilliant
throwback to the days of Waylon's, Willie's, Tompall's, and Jessie's
seminal "fuck you" that reverberated all through Nashville and drove a
stake through the heart of that lifeless beast known as "countrypolitan."
Well, now we come to the portion of the tale where the chink in my
reviewer's carefully crafted façade of omniscience is revealed. In my
half-assed exuberance I was somehow afflicted with the belief that
Jackson Taylor was from California when, in actuality, he's from Texas.
A dire mistake. Not one that would get me fired from the New York Times,
mind you, but a personal embarrassment nevertheless and an affront to
the integrity of Mr. Taylor. Fortunately, Jackson took no umbrage with
my oversight and sent me a copy of his latest release, Hollow Eyed &
Wasted. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing.
Jackson Taylor and the
boys pick up right where they left off on Gypsies & Drifters and
offer ten more songs of some of the best new Outlaw country around. This
is not the lowest common denominator ad executive version of Texas music
- - hell, no. This is the sound of every night in a new roadhouse or
honky-tonk, one too many the night before and waking up to the
realization of some horrible miscalculation, good times, hard living,
and the moral conflicts of existing in a Nietzschean universe. Yeah,
that's right, Jackson Taylor knows his way around a bar, but his lyrics
show he's also no stranger to the darker corners of the Ivory Tower. On
the disc's opening track, a bar room rocker about raising hell called
"Long Legs & Longnecks," Jackson Taylor's paean to insouciance - - try
and say that after a few shots - - has a few sobering reflections hidden
in its crevices. But don't let that scare you away.
I was a honky tonk hero
And a family man
I've found out the hard way
They just don't go hand in hand
So when I reached for the bottle
I turned my back on the wedding band
As far as I'm concerned
drunkenness and death have always been a sure combination for a great
song, and if a little clever wordplay is involved, well, that's just
lagniappe. On "Maria," Jackson Taylor gives a little of all three. With
a sound straight from a hard-edged cantina, which includes an
honest-to-God piano riff, Taylor weaves a tale of jealousy and tequila
with a gallows humor that Townes himself would have to applaud.
I gave my heart to Maria
I gave my life to tequila
I shoot tequila because of Maria
And I shot Maria because of tequila
The police found me stone cold drunk at the bar
After I'd dumped the gun and the stolen car
And I left no prints, no, I'd been real careful
The mind becomes keen when you're heart broke and vengeful
Ten songs on the disc,
Jackson Taylor wrote nine of them, and the only one he didn't write,
"Eleven Roses," sounds as though he could have. Like most Outlaws
Jackson Taylor has a romantic streak, and this poetic song about an act
of contrition for a mistake that goes unmentioned is an unadulterated
example. Shit, if Kobe knew how to play a guitar, he could've saved
himself four million dollars with this one.
I guess you noticed there are only eleven roses
I chose them from the garden where they grew
Take the roses and look into the mirror
And the twelfth rose will be looking back at you
"Ride the Lightning" may
easily be the most vivacious song about going to the electric chair
that's ever been sung. If Johnny Cash had fronted the Scorchers this is
the kind of song he would've written. Jackson Taylor definitely knows
how to close out a CD.
Well, I killed a man up in New York City
Just to watch him bleed
I robbed three banks down in Alabama
Ran out of luck in Abilene
Oh, I'm going to ride the lightning, ride the lightning
I'm going to fry, fry, fry
I'm going to ride the lightning, ride the lightning
Glory hallelujah I'm going to die
With a voice reminiscent
of a young Waylon Jennings and a band that rocks harder than the Bama
Band after a fifth of Jim Beam, Jackson Taylor is putting a flame to the
ass of Texas music. This is the second time I've written about this guy.
What the hell else more do you need? Go out and buy Hollow Eyed &
Wasted, review over.
Get on over to
and pick up a copy of everything these guys have done. No excuses.
Hollow Eyed and
Hollow Eyed and Wasted is the latest
release from the Jackson Taylor Band. JTB’s previous release, Gypsies
and Drifters, introduced the band to a larger Texas audience, and
received much praise. And just when we thought they couldn’t outdo
themselves, JTB proved us wrong.
The album kicks off in true Texas fashion with “Long Legs, and Long
Necks,” that talks about the reckless and wild lives that many musicians
live. And, who knows…maybe that life ain’t so bad.
I’ve got a taste for whiskey
I’ve got a taste for neon lights
I’ve got a taste for tequila on them hot summer nights
I’ve got a taste for money
Money makes everything alright
Hell, I remember twenty-one like it was yesterday
Ten years gone by, and I'm still living day to day
Chasing long legs, and long necks
And long nights to love away
Drinkin’ songs are aplenty on this album, as they are on any Outlaw
album. “Blue Agave,” is a song that any of the legends would love to
cover. “Maria” is a Texas-mariachi song that would definitely appeal to
the “ball-capper” crowd that many artists despise (but fail to realize
fill their pockets with cash). The next two tracks, “Something More”,
and “Old Lone Star,” slightly cross the line of becoming mainstream
country material, but still maintain the integrity of being true Texas
honky-tonk. “Old Lone Star” however, could find it’s way onto a Merle
Haggard album on any given day.
Everyone’s moving on but me
Settling down, raising families
I'm still picking this guitar
From bar to bar
Under that old Lone Star
And all I'm feeling is older
Living my life for chances to hold her
And she’ll either fall in or out of love with me
Take or break my heart
Under that old Lone Star
Ahh…the challenges and temptations when one is a musician. It may not be
the good life, but it’s their life. And Taylor ain’t afraid to sing
about it! “Hollow Eyed and Wasted” is a song about drinking all your
troubles away. (A slightly recurring theme for the outlaws of our
She’s got me falling to pieces
Crazy, walking the floor
And two doors down
There stands a glass
That will ease my troubled mind once more
All night long
Hell, I'm hollow eyed and wasted
Hollow Eyed and Wasted meshes roadhouse honky-tonk, whorehouse swing,
and swampy blues to create a solid all around effort. Key cuts include:
“Long Legs and Longnecks”, “Old Lone Star”, the title cut, “Mystery
Train”, and “Eleven Roses.” Taylor’s coming into his own, and maturing
vocally, and the band is as tight as ever. Taylor penned all tracks,
with the exception of a cover of Hank Williams Jr.’s “Eleven Roses.”
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching the progression of JTB, and they’ve
improved with each subsequent album. Big things are in store for these
guys beneath the Old Lone Star and beyond.
Jackson Taylor Band:
Jackson Lee Taylor has a lot of expectations to live up
to. Many of legends have three names – take Billy Joe Shaver, Jerry Jeff
Walker, or Robert Earl Keen for example. These are the guys who have
lived the lives of gypsies and drifters. Taylor’s sophomore is aptly
titled Gypsies and Drifters, and is dedicated to ol’ Waylon Jennings.
That being said, the album is one that I had expectations for even
before listening to it.
The album opens up with “Guitars, Jim Beam, and Waylon,” a track that
could easily find its way onto any album in the late Jennings’
repertoire. The song is truly an outlaw theme, that mentions heroes like
Shaver, and Jennings, and Willie Nelson, coupled with Jim Beam, guitars,
Texas, and Mary Jane.
Well, it seems like I smoke more than I used to
Hell, here lately I'm stoned all the time
And it seems like I fight more than I need to
Cause I'm on the streets and bloody every night
And hell, I drink enough to kill a mother’s love
But I go on living just for spite
And now it’s guitars, Jim Beam, and Waylon
That feed my fire that burns the cold and lonely nights
“Guitars, Jim Beam, and Waylon,” perfectly sets the mood for Jason
Boland’s “Drinkin’ Song,” which is one of two lone covers on the album.
Taylor and his band take Boland’s original version and kick it up a
notch, with loud guitars, whorehouse piano, and as much heart and soul
as they can muster. At this point, they really started to catch my
attention, and as I delved in for a closer listen, I realized that the
Jackson Taylor Band is the real deal, and is a band that will be blazing
“Going Back to California,” has a Texas-mariachi feel (and is one that
Texas honky-tonker could record as a follow-up to “Senorita Mas Fina.”)
The album takes a break from the hell-raisin’, bottle-breakin’, rebel-rousin’
feel with “Mama She’s Pretty,” a song about a young man falling in love,
and realizing how much it can change his life.
Oh Ooh, I didn’t know a man could fall this hard before
Ooh Ooh, yes it’s true
Love can make this old world brand new
Also worth mention is Taylor’s cover of Shaver’s “Black Rose.” There are
some untouchable songs that shouldn’t be attempted to be re-made.
Expectations were high for Taylor and Co., and folks, they won’t let you
down. They take the original Shaver version, and turn it into an all-out
rockin’ tune, while still maintaining the integrity of the original
Gypsies and Drifters has too many high points to name just one. And
there’s too many great songs to pack into a single review. What can be
said is that Taylor has averted the “jinx” of the “sophomore album
curse,” that can make or break an artist or a band. Be sure to catch
these gypsies and drifters when they roll into a town near you.
In the liner notes to
Jackson Taylor's debut disc, he thanks and praises his "Holy Trinity:
Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings and Billy Joe Shaver" - but he didn't
have to spell them out. Their influences are clear throughout "Humboldt
County," a time-warp disc that recalls the late '50s, when the fences
between country and rock 'n' roll were a whole lot lower.
Taylor (no relation to
James) has found a musical middle ground without compromising his sound.
The mix of covers and originals are equally appealing.
Taylor is excellent on the
Elvis hit "That's All Right Mama" (you can hear hints of a sneer in his
voice) and the disc's title track, his own "Humboldt County Grown," is a
hip and funny riff on his youth in Northern California's hippie haven.
Taylor will probably find
his biggest audience in Nashville, but his music has the kind of heart
and honesty that deserves much wider acclaim.
Since the disc was
printed in Canada, it might be hard to find at your local record shack.
To get a copy or sample, head to Taylor's Web site at
"The title cut Gypsies &
Drifters sounds like it could be the lost track from Waylon's seminal
Honky Tonk Heroes"
Jud Block -
Gypsies & Drifters
By Jud Block
Waylon Jennings is
certainly casting a long shadow over the alt./insurgent/neo
outlaw-country scene. Hell, since his death, his legacy has gone from a
sunspot to a near full eclipse in terms of claimed influence for new
artists and fans alike. But such superficially fashionable developments
always tend to make me a little suspicious. It's kind of like a few
years ago when punk supposedly made a comeback, and, almost overnight,
on the rear windows and T-shirts of slightly discomfited high school
bromides everywhere appeared the symbol and name of Black Flag. Great, I
was and am a big fan of Henry Rollins and his former band, no problem
there, but for all of the merchandise I saw proclaiming allegiance from
those born at the height of Rick Astley's popularity, never once did I
pull up alongside a car adorned with the unmistakable four vertical bar
emblem and actually hear Black Flag blasting from the stereo. And I'd
hate to think that Waylon would suffer the same fate, but so far I've
heard a lot of talk and not much music.
So when I received the
Jackson Taylor Band's new CD Gypsies & Drifters and saw that it
was dedicated to Waylon Jennings, my first thought was this had better
be one damn good disc. Then when I discovered that Jackson Lee Taylor is
from Humboldt County, California, I thought this had better be one hell
of a damn good disc because that dedication was now starting to look a
little like audacity and a challenge. Well, a few notes into the first
song and I realized that Mr. Taylor and the boys (Ronnie Belaire, Mark
Belaire, Mick Jaeger, Jeff Carolus, and Rick Bourgoin) had, indeed, made
one hell of a damn good disc, and one that I have no doubt Waymore would
The aforementioned opening
track --"Guitars, Jim Beam & Waylon" -- wastes no time in setting the
subject matter and tone of the disc. It's a paean to the classic Waylon
sound that opens with the strumming of a solo guitar quickly joined by a
bass drum and bass guitar playing in time with one another. And just as
the first lyrics outlining a life of hard living begin, in chimes the
slightly distorted deep twang of the lead guitar to fill everything out.
With a slight lyrical revision here and there, this song could be set
firmly in the Waylon Jennings canon. And thankfully Jackson Taylor's
voice, which has a young David Allan Coe quality to it, is weathered
enough to be believable.
Well, it seems like I
smoke more than I used to
Hell, here lately, I'm stoned all the time
And it seems like I fight more than I need to
'Cause I'm in the street and bloody every night
And hell, I drink enough
to kill a mother's love
But I go on living just for spite
And now it's guitars, Jim Beam and Waylon
That feed my fire that burns the cold and lonely nights
After a good cover of
Jason Boland's "The Drinking Song," which is a kind of sacrificial
offering to the Ball Cap Nation troglodytes, "Going Back to California"
returns the Jackson Taylor Band to classic Outlaw form. With its fiery
electric guitar lead-in and driving rhythm section, this is the kind of
insouciant song that Mr. Coe would've been proud to write. With its
love-'em-and-leave-'em, maintaining-freedom-above-all-else sentiment, it
is the fantasy of nearly every man, and has a chorus that even a
lobotomy couldn't get out of your head.
I've had a real good time
Sipping tequila and sucking on limes
And the nights,
Here in ol' Mexico
With you are as sweet as mango
At your long tan legs
They lead to heaven
But still I can't stay
Like I told you,
No woman owns my road
Yes, I love you but I have got to go
But the highlight of the
CD is their cover of Billy Joe Shaver's classic song "Black Rose." This
song is one of my all time favorites and, for that reason, I'm probably
more than a little harsh in my criticism of people outside of Waylon and
Billy Joe attempting it. Well, the Jackson Taylor Band cranks up the
guitars and turns the song into a Southern rocker along the lines of the
Georgia Satellites while maintaining the integrity of the original.
Jackson Taylor has made the song into a raise your beer and sing along
exorcistic anthem. And I mean that in a good way.
Well the devil
made me do it the first time
The second time I done it on my own
Lord, put a handle on a simple headed man
Help me leave that black rose alone
The title cut sounds like
it could be the lost track from Waylon's seminal Honky Tonk Heroes.
It's a stripped-down affair featuring only an acoustic guitar, the lower
end of a reverb-laden electric guitar, and Jackson Taylor's voice. It's
a more philosophical piece that contemplates the ramifications of a
hard-living musician's life. This song, probably more than any of the
others on the disc, is the one that is easiest to imagine Waylon
A lifetime of pickin'
And all that it's gettin' me
Is older and alone
And chasin' my dreams
Has left me frayed at the seams
And faded like an old pair of jeans
And I have not given
One thought to livin'
Past what my pen can write
When the ink has all dried
And the melodies died
What the hell's gonna get me through the night
With traces of Waylon, David Allan Coe, and Mike Plume (earlier in his
career), Jackson Taylor and his band have laid the foundation for a
promising future. While Gypsies & Drifters may be unfairly
dismissed by some as yet another addition to the "Texas and Beer" school
of music, in my opinion it is the closest thing to the old Outlaw sound
I may have ever heard; in fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that if I
were to ever pull alongside Jackson Taylor at a stoplight, I know what
I'd hear coming out of his stereo, and there probably wouldn't even be a
sticker in the window to tip me off.
Texicana Music Central
by Waco Odie
"A young artist
who is both respectful to the roots and willing to experiment"
James Oden - Miss Lana's
The King - Elvis
The Prophets - Billy Joe Shaver & Kris Kristofferson
The Baptist - Waylon Jennings
The Apostles - Willie Nelson, Hank Jr., Bobby Bare, Sam Cooke, Dwight
Yoakam, Johnny Cash
OK, Jackson Lee, you put those names in your liner notes. You had
He does. I received two CDs in the mail recently, so you folks are
getting a double dose. The CDs are "Humboldt County" credited to
Jackson Taylor, and "Gypsies and Drifters" by the Jackson Taylor
Band. These are fun, hard rocking, in your face music. For folks who
love rockabilly, early Dwight Yoakam, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Shaver (the
band with Eddy) style music, this is an incredible find.
The first CD is "Humboldt County", released in 2001. This disc shows a
young artist who is both respectful to the roots and willing to
experiment. Originals like "Lucky Night" and "Humboldt County Grown"
are mixed in with classics by Elvis, Billy Joe Shaver and the Bee Gees
(yes the Bee Gees). The music is a great dose of Fender bending,
whorehouse piano, and the driving bass and drums I call the "Waylon
Whomp". A medley of Dwight Yoakam's, "It Won't Hurt", with the Hag's,
"Today I Started Loving You Again", is a highlight, along with a driving
version of "Ride Me Down Easy" and the old Mickey Gilley tune "The Girls
All Get Prettier at Closing Time". I have to confess that the sixties
Bee Gee song "To Love Somebody" was one of my favorites in my youth. It
was well done by Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers, but
Jackson and the boys change it from the wimpy whine of a little boy to
the rocking shout of a man.
"Gypsies & Drifters" (2002) is my favorite of the two. By this
CD, it looks like a true band developed. It leans less on covers. Only
two this time, Jason Boland's "Drinking Song", and a full-tilt "Black
Rose" that shows the boys must have listened closely to both Billy and
Eddy Shaver. The opener, "Guitars, Jim Beam, and Waylon" conjures up
the high points of the Outlaw period.
"You can blame it on Billy
Joe, Waylon, and Willie
for a life lived too
fast, lived too free.
You can blame it on Texas,
Mary Jane, and lonely
but good Lord, don't you
blame it on ol' Jackson Lee".
Taylor's originals show a maturing writer. "She's a Real Good Girl"
could likely be a hit by some country hunk (if they had any class),
"Mama She's Pretty" is a strong love song, and "Gypsies and Drifters"
pays homage to the folks like Waylon, Willie, Kris, and Billy Joe, who
paved the way.
Taylor is currently based around Austin and is on tour. I'd love to see
this band live. I bet it is fun. They have a web site at