burtschi brothers, ain’t being treated right (roadmap records, 2002)

Originally Appeared in The Green Man Review with Excellence in Writing Award (EIWA).

That’s right, like e.e. cummings, neither the title, nor the band, nor the songs are capitalized, and the band-album-title is meant to be read both as a sentence and an attitude: “had my fill of all that shit; I ain’t bein’ treated right in this here town.”

The Burtschi brother’s begin the new year with this CD released on January 17th. I’m pleased to hold a copy of the unmixed studio recording, complete with the unreleased track, at least until I receive a signed CD or something.

This is a 16-track omnibus CD of Burtschi experience and development. Many of these songs are field-tested live performance hits like “you hold the whiskey, i’ll hold the money”, “just out of reach”, and “casting my shadow” that wowed audiences at multi-band outdoor concerts, openings for blockbuster acts, and venues frequented by cutting-edge college-music devotees. The Rockabillyish penultimate track “pontotoc county line” is a typically Travis Linville performance with “Willy Nelson-ish” vocals and hard picking that is likely to catch one, in the words of the song, “pants on wrong side out, rootin in the underbrush, strewin all my man-ness about…”

This reviewer first heard Jamie Kelley’s lyrical creation “leave her to heaven” picked out on an old six-string in a whitewashed, closet-size hotel room. “Into the blue” was first played during a brown-bag lunch in the back of Kelley’s now immobile grey-primered Chevy van. Both ballads, along with the sweet liquidy “wishing well,” are recorded with wholesome harmonic colors and Linville’s tangy, cidery vocals.

Religious allusions, courtesy of Kelley, receive searching (if generally passing) attention in the lyrics. “I’ve got a place in the big man’s chain”, “feelin’ guilty as original sin…”, “an angel must’ve been on my shoulder…” and perhaps in summary, “There aint a man who could face his god and say that I’ve been any way but wrong, ’cause I’ve been triflin’ too long.”

The CD also premiers steel, slide, and octave guitar-player Kevin “Hotrod” Webb’s writing talent and lead vocals in “soft way”.

Less of the jazz element one found in the premier album is here (the title track is the jazziest), and more country. Personally I would like to have heard more of the trademark ‘country-metal’ instrumental interludes and soloing one expects in live Burtschi performances (bassist Kelley does receive the nod in the title track), perhaps even some live tracks. Is a live album now in order?

It may be a few days before this CD hits online music outlets. Meanwhile, one can always get it by accosting members of the band at places where they are likely to appear. Just a few examples: Kirby’s Beer Store in Wichita, The Golden Light in Amarillo, Murphy’s in Memphis, The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, or venues like The Blue Door in Oklahoma.

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