How ballsy is it in 2013 to open a CD with a Lawrence Welk cover? Can you still be totally cool? The answer is Yes, as Gordie MacKeeman And His Rhythm Boys prove on their new album, Pickin’ ‘N’ Clickin.’ They kick it off with Welk’s “Champagne Polka,” starting it with a nice scream on fiddle before jumping into some high-paced, energetic fun. Seriously, this is a wonderful instrumental tune. Kick up your heels, spin your partner around, and reflect on how sometimes life can just be so damn good.
The good times continue with some great old grooves on “Ragtime Cowboy Joe.” I love the vocal line to this tune, though it sure is difficult to sing along. Perhaps if I learned the words… I can’t help but agree with the line, “No one but a lunatic would start a war.”
In “Gonna Get Out,” they sing, “Oh baby, I’m not in love with you.” Yes, it’s one of those great, fun, happy, heart-broken country songs. This is an original tune, written by Gordie MacKeeman, and it’s one of my favorite tracks. “You broke my heart, and that ain’t right/You gave our love to another guy.” And any song that has the phrase “Good riddance” is okay by me.
These guys do a great job with the traditional tune “Old Joe Clark.” This is a fantastic, joyous bluegrass jam, with some tremendous playing. Everyone gets a chance to shine on this track.
This band can also do excellent work on slower tunes. “Jim’s Lament” is a sweet, sad, slow and beautiful instrumental track composed by Godie MacKeeman. They follow that with the traditional “O’Halloran Road,” which features some nice vocal work.
They pick things up again with another original, “Working Title,” written by Peter Cann. This is a playful and delightful tune. “Do what you want if it makes you feel fine/Do it all night if you’re so inclined.” This song has me smiling every time I listen to it. And there’s a nice instrumental section.
Another highlight is the sly and seriously cool “Hay Boys,” with its great simple pounding rhythm, creating the sounds of hard, repetitive work. Then pretty fiddle sections break it up. This is a great song, with fairly simple but effective lyrics, such as “Sow, boys, or it ain’t gonna grow, boys/Let’s grab a hoe or it ain’t gonna grow” and “Plow, boys, if the time will allow, boys/Best do it now, boys/Best do it now.”
“Scrape The Paint” is another that is great fun, with excellent vocals and some nice work on guitar. It was written by Peter Cann. “There’s work to be done/Before we have our fun/ And we’ll stay out all night long.” I dig this line: “And all this rambling round won’t get you into town.”
CD Track List
- Champagne Polka
- Ragtime Cowboy Joe
- Gonna Get Out
- Old Joe Clark
- Heroes Of The Sidewalk
- Jim’s Lament
- O’Halloran Road
- Working Title
- There Is A Time
- Hay Boys
- King Ganam Style
- Black Velvet Waltz
- Scrape The Paint
- Wildwood Flower
Gordie MacKeeman And His Rhythm Boys are Gordie MacKeeman on fiddle and vocals; Mark Geddes on bass, drums, percussion, mandolin and banjo; Thomas Webb on bass, banjo, guitar, pedal steel guitar and vocals; and Peter Cann on guitar and vocals.
Joining them on this recording are Nathan Wiley on 12-string guitar, lap steel guitar, drums, percussion, keys and harmony vocals; Dale Desroches on drums; Meaghan Blanchard on harmony vocals; Hannah Rose on harmony vocals; Michael Pendergast on accordion; Jon Matthews on low D whistle; and Mike Dixon on backing vocals.
Pickin’ ‘N’ Clickin’ was released on July 28, 2013. I hope I get a chance to see this band perform live.