Andrew Delaney had a pretty weird dream.
“It was about a goose, and this goose wore a little goose-sized rhinestone jacket, and a little cowboy hat, and he sang classic country music … and his name was Honk Williams.”
Delaney begins his impressive new release, That One Time at Tom & Cary’s, by conveying a dream to a living room full of folk fans and friends at the home studio of Tom Prasada-Rao and Cary Cooper, a.k.a. Tom & Cary’s.
Delaney’s between-song banter is nearly as engaging as his songs, which weave outlaw country snarl with creaky, woeful folk tales.
“And the reason I bring this up,” Delaney continues on the LP’s opener, “is because every song that I’m going to play tonight, and every thought I’ve ever had came out of the same brain … that birthed Honk Williams. Think about it.”
From there, Delaney, and his band, The Horse You Rode In On, take off into a deliciously dreary blues tale on a new song called “Lou’s Cafe.” And just like that, you’re there at Lou’s, next to a worn, depressed waitress (who, to me, sounds like she’s looking out of a dirty window at the rain outside, but I digress).
Point is, Delaney is on his way to becoming a masterful folk storyteller. His between-song banter becomes a running theme throughout the LP, and, at times, it’s nearly as engaging as his songs, which weave outlaw country snarl with creaky, woeful folk tales.
The recording is a loose gathering of fairly docile music fans, but they are sitting in front of a potent combination of area musicians — namely special guest ivory plunker Julie Bonk. Bonk has played a little saloon-style piano for three U.S. presidents (Clinton, Dubya and Carter). Plus, Norah Jones was Bonk’s piano and vocal protégée.
“She’s jammed with just about everyone you can think of,” Delaney tells CultureMap. “She signed on just on account of liking my songs. We were honored to have her.”
On the night of the recording, Bonk really runs free. When it comes to good old Southern rock piano playing, she could give Skynyrd’s Billy Powell a serious run.
The band covers songs from their debut album Scoundrels! — “Miner’s Prayer” and “Wine and Roses” — as well as from their 2011 sophomore Would I lie to You?, including the sad love story tango of “Dead Man’s Boots” and “Ramblin Jack.” On the LP, Delaney prefaces the latter with a little more banter about famous folkster Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.
“I got to do a show opening for him once and I got to tell him, ‘Hey, I’m gonna do this song called Ramblin’ Jack, but it’s not about you. When you hear it, please don’t knife me.’”
The album touches on a spectrum of moods, which makes it fun and worth the price of admission. It includes a handful of great new songs and closes with a barnburner from his second LP, “Might as Well Stay the Night.”