It was their mutual love for the music of legendary country artist Buck Owens that originally brought The Derailers together back in the ’90s, and with the release of their eighth album, Under the Influence of Buck, the honky-tonkin’ boys from Austin bring their music all the way back to the source with a rollicking and heartfelt tribute to the timeless music of Buck Owens.
As the band has evolved over the years, perfecting its patented “Beatles-meets-Bakersfield” sound, The Derailers have always looked to Owens and his band, the Buckaroos, for inspiration. Their love and respect for the music Owens made is as unabashed and real as the performances that are captured on this special album. Well-loved standards like “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail,” “Cryin’ Time” and “Together Again” are delivered fresh, and the band dusts off lesser-known Owens songs like “Down On the Corner of Love” and “Who’s’ Gonna Mow Your Grass” with passion-fueled versions that do the Buckaroos proud.
The band met their hero in 1995, performing at a Buck Owen’s birthday celebration in Austin, TX. Owens was visibly touched by the extent to which The Derailers honored him with their faithful adherence to the sound he created. He invited the band to come and play his club in Bakersfield, California, the Crystal Palace, and thus began their musical relationship. And it was Buck who personally asked The Derailers to be the house band for his 70th Birthday Bash in 1999. Buck stood up and cheered for them in front of all in attendance: his friends and family, as well as his business and musical associates – including a reunion of the classic Buckaroos line-up. The back cover photo of Under the Influence of Buck holds the image of Buck looking on with pride at the band who carries on in his footsteps. It is clear that Buck gave the group his genuine seal of approval.
“Over the years, we talked to him extensively about music, what he had done and what we were trying to accomplish,” says The Derailers leader Brian Hofeldt. “He offered insight and sympathy for what we had ahead of us, and most importantly, encouragement. He put his money where his mouth was and continued to book us in his club and get together with us whenever we came through Bakersfield. It was an honor to be recognized and boosted by a man who was our musical hero and the times we had to spend with Buck are cherished memories.”
The road to Under the Influence wasn’t without its bumps and potholes. After signing with Palo Duro Records and touring behind their critically acclaimed 2006 release, Soldiers of Love, Derailers frontman Brian Hofeldt survived a run-in with a drunk driver (Brian’s fine!) and the theft of his beloved vintage guitar (it’s been recovered!).
The tireless energy of a seasoned Derailers lineup – including pedal steel guitarist Chris Schlotzhauer and keyboardist Sweet Basil McJagger – together with these Owens’ classics makes for a potent mix and a meant-to-be musical moment. These songs haven’t sounded so contemporary since the day they were first released. From the album’s opening track, “Foolin’ Around,” to “Big in Vegas,” the mournful track that closes this remarkable collection, Under the Influence of Buck is a loving look back and a natural step forward for one of the coolest bands around.
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