‘Live at the White Water Tavern’
By C.W. Ross
With this release Last Chance Records says that they want to, ‘seals their (The Magpies) status as the best band you’ve never heard.’ In the words made famous by a past president, ‘Mission Accomplished.’ Unlike his words though mine aren’t premature because even though I hadn’t had the pleasure of hearing The Magpies music before once my speakers roared to life I become an instant fan of the band.
The band was formed from the ashes of Roger Hoover and the Whiskeyhounds with their lineup consisting of, Roger Hoover, Justin Gorski, Dave McKean, and Doug McKean. The album was recorded on one hot summer night in May at the legendary White Water Tavern in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’m not a real big fan of live recordings because I feel that often they sound okay the first time you hear them but after that the added noises get in the way of the actual music. But with this release the ‘live part’ is limited mostly to some applause at the end of the songs that doesn’t interfere in any way with enjoying the band’s music over and over.
The Magpie’s music is a blend of roots/swamp/southern rock with a few touches of alt. country. The songs are filled with lively guitar parts that take firm control of each track, driving them to their destination. You’ll also find steady, often thunderous, drum beats along with piano parts that really stuck out for me, that at times sounded like Jerry Lee Lewis ‘The Killer’ himself or Billy Powell (Lynyrd Skynyrd). Like a well made sundae that’s topped off with a big juicy bright red cherry The Magpies’ music is topped off with stellar vocals that roll along like a finely tuned car burning up the track on race day.
Highlights for me include, “Used Cars” with its nice guitar part that really complements the vocal parts found on the song, along with its twinkling piano part. I also liked the Southern rock vibe found on, “Keep Me Away,” that features another really nice piano solo part. If you’re in the mood for something more melodic then the track, “Girl on the Hill” will fit the bill.
Tracks 6-9 really get things cranking. T-6-“Main Street” reminded me of a Steve Earle song, T-7 starts with a driving drum beat and also features a lively accordion part. T-8, “Ain’t Working’ for the Man” is a rhythmic blue collar worker’s anthem. T-9, “Caroline Street” is another up tempo rocker.
“Wish I Was in Heaven” wraps things up in a big way with its 6:45 running time that’s filled with a real jam vibe that lets the instrumentation run freely.
If you like your rock music roots’ based and filled with great instrumentation and vocals then you can’t go wrong with The Magpies release, ‘Live at the White Water Tavern.’