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Chicago Country Legends

The Sundowners

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Album Review

In the old days before country music was regarded as a viable commercial medium by the mainstream music industry (a discovery that has caused country & western nothing but trouble since), practically every city of any size had at least one honky tonk with a house band capable of playing anything a customer was likely to request. In Chicago, the Sundowners were a three-piece country band that held court from 1959 to 1989 in a handful of Windy City beer joints; they spent most of their career at a club called the R.R. Ranch, where they would play all night four nights a week and run through 7,000 songs in a year. While on the surface the Sundowners might sound like an ordinary bar band, Chicago Country Legends is a collection of live recordings culled from 11 years of gigs, which proves they were anything but. Don Walls' jazzy, Merle Travis-inspired lead guitar lines would have been the envy of any number of Nashville pickers, second guitarist Bob Boyd and bassist Curt Delaney were a strong enough rhythm section that one rarely noticed the lack of a drummer, and their harmonies were as crisp and refreshing as an ice-cold beer. The Sundowners also knew how to mix up their repertoire, running from traditional classics like "Tom Dooley" and "Miller's Cave" to (then) contemporary pop hits from the Beatles and Bobby Darin, all played with their own unique mix of down-home feeling and big-city flair. Some musicians achieve overnight success that makes them famous worldwide, but only for a matter of a few years (or months), while others quietly make wonderful music that's heard only by a small number of people at a time, but they keep on doing it for decades. The Sundowners fell squarely into the latter category, and while Chicago Country Legends is a loving tribute to what made them memorable, it also by extension pays homage to the literally thousands of unknown musicians who without the glare of the limelight play fine, soul-satisfying music every night of the week. God bless the honky tonks, and bless the memory of the Sundowners, whose fine sounds will be remembered long after Toby Keith is merely a troubling memory.

Customer Reviews

Great Music Great People Great Times

I was lucky enough to play music for years with The Sundowners at The R&R Ranch. This is great music and if you like Hank Thompson/Sons of the Pioneers this is for you. The live recording a little thin but all their feeling is there. God bless these guys and I know their playing in the angel band right now.

Biography

Genre: Country

Years Active: '60s, '70s

The Sundowners never landed a hit record and very rarely played a show outside of their home town, but for the better part of 30 years, they were the honky tonk heart and soul of the city of Chicago, and journalist Dave Hoekstra once wrote, "The Sundowners are the patron saints of Chicago's insurgent country movement." In 1959, lead guitarist Don Walls and rhythm picker and lead vocalist Bob Boyd were playing in a Windy City country group called the Circle C Boys when their bassist, Curly Coldiron,...
Full Bio
Chicago Country Legends, The Sundowners
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