Review: Dave Perkins – Pistol City Holiness (the best album of the year you never heard of)
It only happens a two or three times a year for me when I put a new disc in the cd player and out of the speakers comes something so good that I can’t put it away. It really hasn’t happened to me yet this year. Sure there have been some really good records this year, but this one is about as perfect as I can imagine.
From the crashing sound of the drums and harmonica wailing of the opening song “Break” to the more laid back but no less wonderfully intense “Mercy In The Morning”, I was reminded over and over again, and not so gently at that, why I fell in love with music in the first place.
So first off, if you don’t know who Dave Perkins is. He has played with or produced many folks such as Over The Rhine, Willie Nelson, Ashley Cleveland, Phil Keaggy, and was even a member of one of the great bands of the 90’s that very few have ever heard of named Chagall Guevera. (note: if you can find that Chagall disc it comes very highly recommended). Dave even released a very good record back in 1987 called The Innocence. Recently, Dave has been battling some pretty serious health issues and pursuing his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt’s Divinity School. He also has been recording one really excellent record.
So what is it about Pistol City Holiness that has made it virtually impossible to stop listening. First off, sonically it just comes at you and keeps coming for the whole disc. Not many discs capture the wall of sound that you imagine would happen in a small club but this one does. Dave, along with his very capable band which includes Reece Wynans, Richard Price, T.J. Klay, Mel Watts, and Ashley Cleveland tear it up. I have to say that T.J. Klay may now be my favorite harmonica player ever.
Lyrically the album is no less intense. Sure there are some of the same themes that run through the blues but Dave makes them feel fresh and alive. The song Long Eleven Road captures the feeling of someone trying to pursue something as simple as a job so a family can be provided for. I’m sure many people can relate to that right now. Perkins moans:
Hush hush hush that child from crying
When I said I’m glad to go, you know I was lyin’
Sometimes the only place that hope lives is in a lie
So hush hush little child we gonna be alright
One more day now come and gone
Down eleven road so long.
There are also stories of fights, romance that is long gone, and tent revivals and mercy that exists every day. As Perkins so well states in the song Preacher Blues, “I coulda been a preacher man but there’s a hellhound on my trail.” Well, you certainly know how to preach the blues Dave and consider me one of the loyal members of your congregation. Amen.
If you are looking for this disc, as of now you can buy it on Dave’s myspace website. It is also available at CD Baby at the following link: http://cdbaby.com/cd/daveperkins.
By Gar Saeger