UNSUNG - A TRIBUTE TO THE SONGS OF BUDDY BRUCE (Independent.)
DOUG BRUCE RESURRECTS TEXAS FAMILY TREASURES DOWN UNDER
“I know that storm is about to begin/ a cold front has started moving in/ there's thunder and lightning in my rain/ my old heart is getting tossed about/ by the cold and gusty winds of doubt/ my eyes are clouding up, it looks like rain/ our love that once was warm and bright/ is covered now by hate and spite/ there's a twister filled with sorrow overhead/ just one more storm will wreck my mind/ and I know it's going to hit now anytime/ I can see bad weather up ahead.” - Bad Weather - Buddy Bruce.
When expatriate Texan Doug Bruce chose Kev Bloody Wilson as his saddle-mate for his latest video clip The Tears it was a match made in honky tonk heaven.
The video was filmed with members of Doug's band The Tailgaters at the Tin Shed at the Toolleen Hotel in the heart of winery country between Heathcote and Echuca.
Kev plays the lovelorn barfly who soaks up his tears despite the efforts of honky tonk angels to entice him to chance his heart on their charms.
The clip climax, so to speak, is when a beefy belle carries the almost comatose country comic to her camper van.
Ironically Kev also employed another expat American pedal guitarist Lucky Oceans, a Texan resident during his stint with prolific Grammy winning western swing band Asleep At The Whee, on some of his albums and local tours.
Lucky and Doug shared another common bond.
Latter day ABC radio and TV host Lucky met Western Australian raised wife Christine Haddow in Nashville and accompanied her to live in Fremantle.
Lucky courted Christine - daughter of a gold miner from Broad Arrow near Kalgoorlie at the Exit Inn in 1977 - when she was working for Cowboy Jack Clement's movie and music production company.
Doug also met his wife Jodie Doyle in Music City and settled in Heathcote in 2005 and took up Australian citizenship in 2014.
“Jodie and I met at the Legends' Corner - not far from the Exit Inn - down on Broadway,” Bruce fondly recalled in a previous interview.
“She was on a working holiday, she was doing some conferences, had been in New York and was just passing through on her way to New Orleans. We just happened to meet. She came and sat next to me and rest is history. We moved here in 2005.”
The singer chose The Tears as first single from his sixth album Unsung - a tribute to the songs of his late uncle Buddy Bruce.
Buddy, unlike Doug's bassist dad Dale who performed with the late Johnny Duncan and toured here in the seventies with Red Steagall & The Coleman County Cowboys , never made it to Australia.
Sadly, Buddy died of brain cancer in his early sixties after having his songs cut by Minnie Pearl, Red Sovine and the Willis Brothers during his stint with Starday Records .
Buddy almost had one of his long lamented compositions Keeping Up With The Jones cut by fellow Texan label mate George Jones but it was one of many that lay dormant in the fading tapings saved by his family.
“George wanted to cut Buddy's song but I think the story was that George wanted writers' royalties for some reason and didn't wanted to really change anything,” Doug revealed.
“Which is kind of par for the course the way it is in Nashville nowadays. But they had an argument and it didn't happen.”
Bruce believes that if The Possum cut Uncle Buddy's song he would never be mistaken for another Buddy Bruce - a member of The Champs who had a 1958 #1 hit here with Tequila .
“Nobody knows who he is,” Doug says of his uncle.
“But if he had that song cut by George Jones he would probably would have been a well-known writer by now. He wrote some great songs. Throughout my childhood he would play these songs on guitar and we'd sit around on Sunday afternoons on the front porch and listen. And there are these songs and demos and things he did in Nashville and Dallas - just tons of them. And then, after he died, my cousin got out the old reel to reels and baked them and got the audio off them. I've had them lying around forever. I thought one day I'm gonna do an album of all of Buddy's songs. I finally got around to it after five of my own albums. I thought it's probably a good time to do it.”
It was a major coup as one of the demos featured Buddy, Dale on bass and a teenage Doug on drums.
Doug, born in small Texas horse town Aubrey, spent much of his early adult life as a drummer in country bands including Cheyenne , touring Texas and beyond.
They played famed venues like Billy Bob's in Fort Worth and opened for fellow Texan artists diverse as Jerry Jeff Walker and Charlie Robison.
He also worked as a session drummer and vocalist before moving to Nashville as a songwriter where he began performing with fellow singer-songwriter Billy Yates and played the Grand Ole Opry a couple of times.
But since departing Texas for the historic gold mining township Heathcote in the latter day winery belt there's plenty of down home country music emanating from his home and studio near Bendigo.
HONKY TONK TEARS IN TEXAS
“Bartender bring that towel right here/ this bar is sopping wet/ no, I didn't spill my beer, it's the tears that made the mess/ I left them on your juke box and on your hard wood floor/ and if that women don't hurry back home/ you can bet I'm gonna leave you some more/ everyone in this old honky tonk leaves you tips for all their beer/ all I can leave now since she's gone is a long trail of tears.” - Tears - Buddy Bruce.
There are no tailgate parties, bro-country beach and river romps or manufactured Nash trash tripe here.
You soak up the rich Texas kicker bar culture from riveting entrée Bad Weather - a clever tune that milks a weather metaphor for storms of romance.
It segues into Help The New Family Move In - a homespun homily about welcoming newcomers to the neighbourhood with music, food, furniture and friendship.
There's no chicken wire bar cages here - more chicken on the ground and BBQ rotisserie.
Nothin' Yet - a blue collar lament mixing blood, sweat and debt - is followed by honky tonk heartbreak anthem Tears and wry heartache ballad Lie To Me .
Greatest Expert is a two stepping tale of a bar bound loser in love laden with regret about a faded romance - a sibling song of equally upbeat Change Your Tune where the male warns his vanquished belle she may regret losing him.
There's also humour charged optimism in I Get Worried.
“I get worried when nothing's wrong, I get worried when things start going right.”
The character in My Baby's Coming Home cleans up his house, pick-up truck, bad habits and influences and empties his bar in preparation for the recidivist return of an old flame.
“I emptied the ash trays, swept out the front room and finished up that last bottle of wine,” the house host declares.
Equally joyous is the jaunty If Heartaches Were Contagious.
“ If heartaches were contagious / I'd be spreading germs around/ I'd be a walking epidemic since you walked out on me/ there's just one thing that could save us before we all went down/ you could change the way that you've been treating me.”
Bruce also conjures a melancholic magic remedy in Whistle Up Some Happiness replete with whistling by singing stockman Ian Burns.
A fitting finale is humorous regret laced lament Night Before The Morning After Game where the character reflects on failure to deliver on and after a boozy marathon bar hop.
Yes, déjà vu all over again for all those honky tonk heroes who sink in rivers of regret.
Doug is touring here to promote his collectors' time capsule before leading a trip back to Texas from Brisbane on September 10 for his grandmother's 100 th birthday and visits to famed Texan honky tonks.
Bruce's Hello World tour includes Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Gruene, Bandera, and San Marcos before ending in Denton and Doug's hometown Aubrey.
His Australian dates include a Sydney Harbour cruise on May 7, Ballina Coastal Country Music Festival June 10-12 and Broadbeach Country Music Festival in Queensland from June 17-19.
Further info - http://www.dougbruce.com.au/Home.html