Chris Gaffney—singer/songwriter/musician/leader of roots band The Hacienda Brothers—died this past April of liver cancer at the age of 57. Gaffney wasn’t the most famous artist on the Americana circuit, but he was much admired by those who did know his music. The executive producer of this collection is Dave Alvin, one of Gaffney’s closest friends and collaborators, and one of more than a dozen artists and bands who contribute versions of Gaffney’s songs to this collection.
On the lead track, “Lift Your Leg” (“You’ve got to lift up your leg a little bit higher/when you’re runnin’ around with the big old dogs…”) relieves any worry about this record being funereal. Like one of Gaffney’s own albums, there’s sincere sentiment here, but plenty of rock ’n’ roll and humor as well, and it all really takes off every time the accordion comes in. I didn’t know Chris Gaffney, but having listened to his records for years, I bet he would have loved Boz Scaggs’ soulful version of “Midnight Dream.” Other high points include John Doe nailing “Quiet Desperation,” Big Sandy, Los Straightjackets and Bill Kirchen burning up “Silent Partner” and Los Lobos doing justice to the beautiful title track. The album ends with Alvin’s production of Gaffney himself: “Guitars of My Dead Friends.” This is a gorgeous, varied tribute to Gaffney’s great talent, and his many musical friendships.
Parts of the album’s proceeds are being donated to Hungry for Music, a nonprofit organization that provides musical instruments to underprivileged children.
Must Play: “Man of Somebody’s Dreams,” Los Lobos
Executive producer: Dave Alvin. Producers: Dave Alvin, Michael Rodriguez, Los Lobos, Tom Russell, Calexico, Jim Dickinson, Rene Coman & The Iguanas, Alejandro Escovedo, Dave Gonzales, Dan Penn & The Hacienda Brothers with Teddy Morgan, Stanley Wykoff. Engineers: Craig Parker Adams, Stewart Sullivan, Michael Rodriguez and Chris Tabarez, Mark Johnson, Michael Trapegnier, Chris Schultz, Craig Schumacher, Mark Hallman, Ben Mumphrey, Chet Himes, Dave Gonzales, Pete Curry, Bill Cashman, Stanley Wykoff. Studios: Winslow Court Studio (L.A.), Wire Studio (Austin, TX), Meac Studio (San Francisco), CRG (Rowland Heights, CA), Congress House (Austin), Wavelab (Tucson, AZ), Arlyn Studios (Austin), Expresso Forte (Queens, NY), Studio in the Country (Bogalusa, LA), ASM Studios (Austin), The Pow Wow Fun Room (L.A.), The Cavern (Tucson). Mastering: Mark Linett/My Place or Yours (Glendale, CA).