GARY LEE TOLLEY
Thanks A Lot
Thanks A Lot - Pick It Up Today - Drift (Where The Currents Take Me) - Lonesome Hobo Willie - Gold Ring On Her Pillow - The Walnut Table - Sing A Country Song - Country Girl - The Red Top Grill - San Pedro Bay
As I begin this review, I have just returned from the Christensen Field House in Fremont, Nebraska, where I heard one of the most astonishing singers and bands currently doing 'live' country music. Patsy Godley and the Country Classic Band (from Virginia). They were there to be awarded the "Traditional Country Music CD of the Year" from the Rural Roots Music Commission. Right now, much to my surprise, I am listening to a young man from the same area of Virginia as Patsy and her band. He's a very "up" songwriter with a super nice voice to match what he's writing. The first song of course is not his, it's one of Ernest Tubb's great songs. It too however, is up-tempo, and sounds good that way. Gary is much like Patsy Godley. He's got a super good country voice, and he's a super good writer. I especially liked "Drift" which is a timeless story song about 'on the road' pursuing the American Dream of trying to be successful in the music business. It's getting more and more difficult these days, but there's a nice piece of harmonica on this song played by Mike Schrimpf that helps us keep our focus on what 'real' country music is 'really' all about. That's what I like about this CD, Mike goes right into the next intro to "Lonesome Hobo Willie" with a fine mellow harmonica lick that fits just fine. Gary did a good job with his studio musicians, which Dick McVey helped put together along with playing bass himself. Gary's voice seems most sincere on another of his originals, "Gold Ring On Her Pillow," a sad song to be sure. These songs are all 'story' songs, exactly what country music has been about all these many years, and exactly what country music at the top-40 level is not about. "The Walnut Table" brings a super nice soft mandolin lead played by Charlie Vaughn (or Deanie Richardson (isn't she part of the Chieftains?), not sure which), but there's also a very lovely 'flute' sound on this track which isn't recognized in the player list. Super nice, we have a writer in Iowa, Jack Langley who is in a similar vein. Wow, I sure would like to hear these two writers bump heads sometime. Lots of other extremely gifted musicians on this session; Mike Baker on electric and acoustic guitar, Tommy White on steel guitar, Eddie Anderson on percussion, Don Drilling on acoustic guitar, and some of the best backup vocalists in the business. My favorite is "Sing A Country Song" quite frankly because I'm so disappointed in so-called 'country' music today on top-40 radio, it just isn't, but this is, whistling and all. My very best wishes to Gary Lee Tolley and his super good country songs. This CD goes to the Rural Roots Music Commission for their listening pleasure, for I know what they like. Hang in there Gary, you might have to make the trip west to Fremont, Nebraska, too. It takes two days to get there, and two months to get back home because like Patsy Godley and the Country Classics Band, we kidnap them and make them play every day for two months. Keep it coming Virginia, you're better than Tennessee right now.
Record Review by Bob Everhart www.ntcma.net for Country Music News International