Blues Brothers-style hot brass blasts over the speakers like a souped-up Crown Victoria at the beginning of “Charla,” a new track from Missouri band the Hooten Hallers. After a saxy intro, singer John Randall launches into a demented rasp that evokes images of Tom Waits tending to a trotline at Lake of the Ozarks.
For a band from the Show Me State, the Hallers are quite good at distilling the sounds of St. Louis, the tweaker rhythms of Missouri lake dwellers, and the anti-establishment sentiments of Chuck Berry’s river blues into a definitive sound. On “Charla,” the Hooten Hallers follow the story of a far-out, yet welcoming, flood survivor from Lupus, Missouri — a town that was offered relocation assistance after the Flood of ’93, but whose remaining 33 residents decided to put their homes on stilts instead.
“Charla is a sweet, old hippy lady who lives in a town on the Missouri River called Lupus. We’ve partied at her house lots of times, especially during the town’s annual chili fest,” Randall told me.
“This song is a pretty literal play-by-play of a typical get together at Charla’s — lots of drinking homemade booze and singing songs around a big bonfire, dogs and children running all around, and she always lets us crash in the shed out back.”
“The people [of Lupus] are as real as it gets,” drummer Andy Rehm adds while emphasizing that the town’s famed chili festival is a must-visit.
The Hooten Hallers’ eponymous new record hits the stands on April 21 via Big Muddy Records. Special guests include Ryan Koenig of Pokey Lafarge’s South City Three, with added production from Kristo Baricevic and the Soledad Brothers’ Johnny Walker. Stream “Charla” below and give that album cover a good gander. It’s super weird.