The Hacienda Brothers
On February 22, 2005 Koch Records released a CD: The Hacienda Brothers. The new band is led by Chris Gaffney and Dave Gonzalez, each a bandleader and songwriter. Chris Gaffney and the Cold Hard Facts released six albums between 89 and 2000 as Chris shared his time on tour as a member of Dave Alvins Guilty Men. Dave Gonzales led the legendary rockabilly band, The Paladins as singer, guitarist and songwriter through 9 albums in the last 17 years.
The two credit former DJ and now Tucson, AZ music promoter Jeb Schoonover (who is now handling management of the band) as the reason for the alliance. They have assembled a top-notch backing band to play a fresh and unique blend of classic country and early soul. In their press bio Gaffney said: We can absolutely turn on a dime, and play what ever we want, and thats how we made the record.
Dave Gonzalez Interview 2/8/05 -- By Billy Davis
The Roots of the Hacienda Brothers
Chris Gaffney has been on the scene in So.Cal. for so long, I already knew who he was. I met him at the Palomino Club (N. Hollywood, CA) in about 89. He and Dave Alvin were playing out as a duo with Dave on acoustic guitar and Gaff on accordion. Dave and Gaff called us (The Paladins) to play the show with them. I thought that would be cool.
That was about the same time I was getting hip to the music of Clifton Chenier and Flaco Jimenez. Seeing Gaff, I said: Wooo! Listen to this guy play accordion and he lives right here in So.Cal.. So I became a fan. And Ive was always a friend and fan of Dave Alvin since way back in the early days of the Blasters (and the early days of The Paladins.) We played a lot of gigs together. So Gaff and I stayed in touch.
I got a production deal through Jeb Schoonover producing a singer, which I wanted to use accordion on, so I called up Gaff. That was really cool. Then a few years later The Paladins were doing a record and I wanted accordion on a country song called RAIN RAIN (Slippin In Ruf Records, 1998) so I got Gaff again. We would bump into each other every now and then and we always talked about each other with our good friend Jeb Schoonover out in Tucson, AZ.
Back when The Paladins recorded the Palvoline No. 7 record (Ruf Records, 2001), I had written a bunch of country songs (GONE GONE GONE, and LONG WAY TO TOWN). Jeb really liked em and kept telling me: You gotta come out here to Tucson, and write some songs with Gaff because you two both dig the same stuff. He was persistent.
Gaff and I played a birthday party for Jeb. It was Chriss birthday too. Not only are they tight friends but have the same birthday. Thats October 3. We sat in, had a ball, and took turns singing. It was a long time coming.
So we started getting together to write songs. Gaff is a great songwriter. Its great for me as a songwriter because I can write without worrying about my limitations as a vocalist or the limited instrumentation of a trio like the Paladins. Ive always wanted steel and more instrumentation.
Gaff is a veteran and I look up to him a lot. Its a wonderful challenge and a great musical step that Ive been to aiming at for years.
When we finally came up with a couple of good tunes, Gaff and I drove back to Tucson (many times). Being in Tucson has always been inspiring. Teddy came over to Jebs house with his recording equipment and we recorded our demo.
We decided if we were gonna make a real record and we wanted to do it right, we needed a real producer. It was Jeb's idea to contact Dan Penn. Jeb knew that I knew Dan Penn for a number of years.
ed. note -- Dan Penn has produced and written hits for Otis Redding (YOU LEFT THE WATER RUNNING), the Box Tops (THE LETTER and CRY LIKE A BABY), Aretha Franklin (DO RIGHT WOMAN), Conway Twitty (IS A BLUBIRD BLUE), James Carr (DARK END OF THE STREET), Janis Joplin (WOMAN LEFT LONELY), James & Bobby Purify (IM YOUR PUPPET), as well as for many other artists like Solomon Burke, and Ronnie Milsap.
I remember I was at Gaffs house picking him up on the way to a gig and I had that home-made demo. I said to Gaff: I think we should just send this thing to Dan. What the heck? I think he is gonna dig it. I wrote out a letter telling him: I got my Desoto back on the road, found a motor for it and by the way here is a demo I cut with a great singer named Chris Gaffney, one of my favorite singers. I think youre gonna like his voice. Sure enough, Dan just loved it. He called me two days later and said, Yall dont need a producer, but if you want one, Im in. But Gaff, Jeb, and I knew we needed a real producer, so we were sure lucky to get Dan on board.
Right about the same time that Dan said he would produce us, thats when Teddy started getting real busy with some other cats doing production work and had to bow out from the Bros.
Gaff and I had already been writing together and had the Hacienda Brothers A-team (the current line up) assembled out here on the west coast. We had already been gigging together for about a year. So when Teddy bowed out, we were bummed, but we already had everything lined up, and we knew we could pull it on our own.
Producer / Songwriter Dan Penn
Dan coined the Hacienda Brothers sound as Western Soul. When Dan first called me up, the first thing he said was: Ya know, Dave, I like that sound yall got. Its kind of like western soul. Chris always says: Im a western singer, not a country singer. He has that southwestern soul. Chris is a soulful singer that sings like Waylon. How hip is that? And Dan heard it too. So its such a trip that Dan dubbed The Hacienda Brothers sound Western Soul.
SHES GONE Jeb loved this song by Melba Montgomery. He always played her records for us. The original title is called HES GONE. We worked it up and arranged it Bros. style. When we finally decided to cut it, we realized it was written by Dallas Frazier and thats heavy! (ed.note Dallas Frazier wrote many big hits including TELL IT LIKE IT IS for Aaron Neville)
MENTAL REVENGE We cut this song the same day as SHES GONE and IM SO PROUD. After cutting two slow songs, Jeb kept saying: You gotta get some electric guitar on here. I wanna hear something rocked up. You have to get off it and get some guitar going and pick the tempo up. He was really cracking the whip. Teddy was operating the gear.
Finally, I said: Why dont we do MENTAL REVENGE?; like Waylon did it Live at JDs in 64. We cut it right then on the spot. Gaff said: I love that tune. I can sing that one. He nailed it.
Chris Lawrence plays steel on IM SO PROUD and also on MENTAL REVENGE. A lot of people think its me playing slide, but thats Chris Lawrence making it sound like a slide. This was just before DB (David Berzansky) became our full-time steel player.
LEAVIN ON MY MIND When I write songs, I get in a mindset like Im writing especially for somebody. This is one I wrote pretending it was for Waylon. I imagined it was the mid-60s and I was going to meet Waylon and pitch him the song.
After we cut all the basic tracks in Tucson, we took it out to Dans studio in Nashville to finish it. This was January of 04. In the studio, I just finished up singing LEAVIN ON MY MIND, and I walked into the control room, and there was another cat sitting there. He was talking to Dan and said: Who wrote this song? Dan said: He did. This is Dave Gonzalez. It was Donnie Fritts. He said: This song sounds like Waylon. That blew my mind, because I was trying to write it to sound like Waylon. That was unreal.
IM SO PROUD That was one of the first songs we wrote. When we were coming out to Tucson to write songs, Jeb told us all to show up with a couple of tunes, and I did.
I had a song called DEEP WATER and I had IM SO PROUD in my mind. We had just arrived after driving 500 miles to Tucson. Jeb was taking everybody out to dinner, but I wanted to stay in and write this song. I was in Jebs living room, and I starting writing that song IM SO PROUD -- although it was originally called IM SO TIRED (laughs) because of that long drive. I kept writing and writing, and when they all came back, we switched the words around and turned it into what is now IM SO PROUD.
I still have the original lyric sheet from when we were finishing this song. Its dated 2/6/03. At the end of the second verse, we were having a lot of trouble with the last line. It really needed a clincher, killer, pull-the-whole-song-together, strong last line. I came up with a few, and they were okay, but Teddy kept saying we could use something better. I said: I know. Finally, when we were cutting the demo of the song, I had it all written out on this piece of paper, but left an X and a long line where that last lyric should be. I handed it to Gaff when he was standing in front of the mic. I said: Here is all the words. When you get to that blank spot, you gotta just close your eyes and pull it - think of something right on the spot. I know you can do it.
Teddy hit the tape deck, Im strumming the guitar, Chris is singin and we get to that point: Lovin each other, weve been through it all. I looked at him, he closed his eyes and dug so far deep into his soul and pulled it right out and said: You built me so high, honey. Dont let me fall. That is the epic line that just tightens the whole song up. It was so hip, Teddy and I looked at each other, looked at Gaff and said We got it! That was so cool !
With every record Ive ever made, you go in with a handful of tunes and a couple of the ones that you know real well dont come off, and then a few surprise you and do. And then you always come up with a few on the spot because there is so much inspiration and creativity going down.
SOUTH OF LONESOME Dan Penn had just driven out from Nashville to Tucson to start recording us. He arrived on Halloween of 03 and we were playing a big theatre in Tucson. Dan came to the gig and Gaff sang a song called SIX DAYS ON THE ROAD. After the show, Dan came back and said: Man, you guys sounded great. That was the best version of SIX DAYS ON THE ROAD that Ive ever heard. We have to cut that for sure. I said: Thats cool that you dug it so much, Dan. But you know as great as that song is, every country bar band has played it, and its really over-played. Chris and I would never consider cutting it.
Dont get me wrong; its one of the greatest truck-driving tunes of all time. Dan said: No No! You have to do it. We need a truck-drivin song. Dan was persistent about it. He said he knew the guy that wrote that song - Carl Montgomery Melbas brother!!
So the next day we got to Jebs and sat down with Dan to sing him about 15 tunes we had in mind. We sang SHES GONE, and he said, Thats Melba Montgomery. Jeb again pulled out the original album and there was that song called SOUTH OF LONESOME a real twangy kind of a song. Low and behold, it was written again by Carl Montgomery. We knew we could arrange it our way and make a great truck-drivin type tune out of it, instead of doing SIX DAYS ON THE ROAD. So we finally convinced Dan into letting us cut it.
LOOKING FOR LONELINESS For me, that song is absolutely the most awesome thing we got to do. There was a song I had written that Dan liked a whole lot called TAKE ME BACK, but it wasnt quite finished. Throughout the whole session, Dan pulled me aside a few times to say: Brother Dave, we gotta finish that tune. We gotta split, take a morning off, and finish that song.
So towards the end of the sessions while we were cutting SAGUARO, working it up and getting the arrangement all together, Dan comes walking in the studio trying to get us into the right mood for it. He got right up next to me, just as close as you can get, looked me dead in the eye, completely serious and said: Dave, Im looking for loneliness. He was describing how he wanted SAGUARO to sound. I said: Dan, that is the tune that we need to go write. It struck me as a title immediately. I could already see the next song.
So the very next morning, Dan and I took off with a guitar up to a mountain lookout just outside of Tucson. We threw rocks, we talked about cars, talked about love - just about everything and then we then we started talking about LOOKING FOR LONELINESS. So while over-looking this giant, as far as you can see, desolation we wrote that song up on top of that mountain.
Then, we got back down to the studio at lunch time, played it to the Bros., and then worked it up on the spot.
When we finally got the arrangement together, so many times we thought we thought we were getting it pretty good. But Dan would say: Nope, you gotta get it in the pocket deeper and get into the groove better. He got in there on electric guitar for a while and then we switched guitars and he worked us up into the way he wanted the song. He knows, LOOKIN FOR LONLINESS is a full-on soul tune and thats his bag. There is something about having a real producer that makes everything happen.
Dan said: When we get back to Nashville, were gonna get Wayne on it. He was talking about trumpet player Wayne Jackson. (ed. note -- Wayne Jackson was the trumpet player / horn section leader on all the classic Stax records Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, Mable John, Wilson Picket, among others)
When we put Wayne on it, it was completely killer and thats when it finally all came together as a full-on soul tune.
Out of all these years of playing guitar and writing songs and making records, LOOKIN FOR LONELINESS - Man, that was one of the coolest things ever. So many times I write songs that sit around for months and even years before you get to cut a demo or a record of it, and you have to recreate the feeling that you had when you wrote it. Sometimes thats very difficult.
Here we wrote the song in the morning, worked it up after lunch, and we were listening to it at dinnertime.
WALKING ON MY DREAMS I wrote the song as if I was gonna pitch it to Willie Nelson - just as a dream. I was pretending to write the B-side to NIGHT LIFE. NIGHT LIFE is one of my all-time favorites Willie wrote it and his version is unbelievable and then of course theres the 1963 Ray Price version and the LP, which is in my top-five favorite records of all time.
So, I was kickin that idea around for a while and then one night at 3 in the morning I woke up and wrote it. I put it on my little tape deck and went back to sleep. I went over to Chriss house a few days later and I remember chasing him around his house trying to play it for him. Sometimes he gets antsy and elusive, so I followed him around from room to room - out into the back yard - into the front room - back and forth. Finally he listened to me and then said: Alright, Ill sing that one now.
I always wanted that to be the first tune on the record because it was the first song we cut with Dan producing and we did it in the first take. For a year, I was listening to the rough mixes, and at the beginning you can hear the engineer Bill Cashman say: Alright, you guys, WALKIN' ON MY DREAMS, take one. I said: This is how we should start the record. Jeb thought it was too slow to be on the top. Gaff and I love the slow songs. Most bands cant do slow songs like that because they dont have a singer like Chris. Chris can really do the slow emotional story-telling songs.
RAILED -- That was a little instrumental built around a guitar lick I had. I was playing the baritone guitar and thought If Freddie King lived in Bakersfield That was my concept. But we didnt have a title for it yet.
In the middle of the session, Gaff had to fly out to play a big gig with Dave Alvin in Washington. While Gaff was gone, Jeb took Dan, his wife Linda, Lindas mother Anna, me and the band down to Mexico for Lindas birthday. We had a ball. When we crossed the border coming back, Gaff had just gotten back to Tucson. I checked my voice mail and it was Gaff saying: Call me. Im back in town. I lost the dog! Jeb had just gotten this dog that was jumpy and freaky. Gaff got back, opened the door, and the dog bolted out.
We were an hour outside of Tucson and the phone rings again. It was Gaff saying: I found the dog. Just as he was hanging up, he said Railed. We would always say: We got railed on that deal. We were cracking up so hard. We wanted to put the phone conversations on the record but never got to. So thats how we came up with that title.
We try to take recording seriously, but at the same time we are having so much fun. Gaff is a hilarious cat - very dry, but very funny.
NO TIME TO WASTE
I wrote that tune the morning of the day we were gonna cut the demo. As usual,
when I get up, the first thing I do is grab my acoustic guitar and I start
writing. Gaff was walking in and out and throwing things in like: Play an A
there, or adding a lyric like: No where to go. It came together pretty quick.
YEARS THAT GOT AWAY Dan Penn wrote that beautiful song for Gaffney. Dan told me about finally pulling his old Studebaker out of his barn with his tractor. He had finally decided that the car was so far on the backburner that he was gonna let it go. After pulling that car out, he was walking towards the house. When he turned back to look at the car the song hit him. He said: That car just gave me that song.
He said he was so inspired to write and then he thought of Gaff. Thats an incredible compliment. It blew us away. And he is so humble about it. He said: I got a little song for you boys and I want to see how Chris likes it.
Gaff immediately took to that tune. Dan and Gaff are story-tellers and both very deep cats. They are really connected in that way. When we got Spooner Oldham to play on it later in Nashville, that was the icing on the cake. His piano style is just timeless.
SEVEN LITTLE NUMBERS -- The whole time we were going out to Tucson, Gaff was telling me about this idea he had for a song called DONT MAKE THAT CALL. He said: You have these numbers that you know. You could call, but you cant, and then you want to, but you dont want to.
Months went by and by and we were finally on our way to Tucson to record with Dan. We were getting close to town and it was real late at night, and I turned to Gaff and asked him: What about that tune? Anymore about it? Gaff said: I dont know. But I could tell he was thinking about it again.
Then I asked him: What if we think about it this way: What would Willie do? Willie would write a song about the matchbook or each one of the numbers on a matchbook. He would really get inside the song.
The very next morning, unfortunately, I had to go to a funeral and Gaff said: When you get back, Im gonna have the first verse written. I came back and sure enough he had it. I was blown away. Then, I had to go to the airport to pick up our bass player, Hank. Chris said: When you get back, Ill have the second verse ready. He did it again!
We sat down with the guitars and bass and started moving it around a little bit. I had this Paycheck tune in my mind called THE COWARD, where he was gonna jump off this bridge. It had a unique chord change in it and I had wanted to write a tune like that, so I threw that chord change at Gaff. At first it didnt match the lyrics and Gaff didnt like it, but me and Hank did. We kept messing with it and Gaff finally took to it and when he did it became like a tribute to Ray Price. We all have no many influences that we draw from to create the Hacienda Brothers sound.
SAGAURO I was playing a lot of baritone guitar and I actually had some words to it. We were kicking it around right after we wrote SEVEN LITTLE NUMBERS. Gaff said: You know what? Forget those words. I can see that as a motion picture soundtrack instrumental. So we did it that way.
When we were in Nashville finishing up the song, we were kicking around the idea of putting on some accordion. It was in the key of B, which is not good for accordion. I thought how about some Mariachi trumpets, which would be super cool. So I asked Dan what he thought of the idea and if Wayne might want to play on one more song? Dan said: Ask Wayne if hell do it. Wayne said: You know, I used to play with Marty Robbins. I love that stuff. Id love to, and it turned out awesome.
When Wayne was leaving, he gave me a big hug and said: Listen Dave. Next time you guys are out there cutting in Tucson, call me because I can eat Mexican food every night of the week and never get tired of it. (laughs) He was so great.
Dave Gonzalez After thoughts
Ive had dreams for a long time of doing a project like this and working with Gaff and Jeb too. I never thought it would actually really happen. But now, Wow! Here we are with a really great band, being produced by Dan Penn, and our record is finally out. What a trip. Its cool.
The following photos by Billy Davis. The Hacienda Brothers live in Austin TX in March of 2004.
7 Little Questions for Chris Gaffney about The Hacienda Brothers Record
1. How Did the Hacienda Bros get started?
CG: Dave Gonzalez, Teddy Morgan and I were playing at Jeb Schoonovers birthday party in Tucson in late 2002. I knew Dave G. for years but at that time we talked seriously about getting a band together.
In 2003 we played a few dates in Tucson and then recorded a demo in Jebs living room and then a little more at Teddy Morgans house.
2. Who is Jeb Schoonover?
CG: Jeb is our manager. Jeb managed the Forbidden Pigs and worked with Candye Kane and The Paladins. He was a DJ at WCXI and a booking agent in the Tucson area.
3. Any of those demos make it to the new CD?
CG: Yes. MENTAL REVENGE, IM SO PROUD, NO TIME TO WASTE, and SHES GONE.
4. Teddy Morgan was the third Hacienda Brother and is pictured on the cover of your demo. Why did he leave The Brothers?
CG: Teddy Morgan had an offer to produce Troy Olsen in Nashville. It was a question of whether he wanted to stick it out with the Hacienda Brothers or take what seemed to be a better deal. It certainly wasnt personal but a financial decision.
5. How did Dan Penn come to produce the new album.
CG: Dan Penn is a legend. He is a well known as a songwriter and producer. We wrote IM YOUR PUPPET, DARK END OF THE STREET, CRY LIKE A BABY, DO RIGHT WOMAN by Aretha Franklin - the list goes on.
Dave Gonzalez met him at a festival in Europe. They stayed in touch. When we did the demo, we sent it to Dan Penn. He came out to Tucson to produce us at Cavern Studios. Then later we went to Nashville to Dan Penns studio to finish up parts.
6. I heard that Dan Penn wrote a song specifically for you called THE YEARS THAT GOT AWAY.
CG: Dan came to Tucson with that song and pitched it to me. He thought it was suited to my voice. We cut the song right then and there.
7. Who is in the band besides you and Dave Gonzalez?
CG: Dale Daniel on Drums -- I knew Dale Daniel from Dallas Waynes band. Dale isnt on the new CD because he was brought into the band after we finished recording it. Hank Maninger on Bass -- Gonzalez knew Hank from rehearsing with him for a Johnny Paycheck tribute show (3/19/03 San Francisco at the Elbow Room). David Berzansky on pedal steel - We got him on a recommendation. He came down cold and just played with us and we liked him right away.
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