Around the tables where the cool kids congregate, Austin tends to get all the buzz when the conversation turns to music and the wandering, observant, lonesome minstrels who make it best. And while Austin deserves its kudos and there’s no denying that a beating heart of country music has long called that city home, the fact is that there’s no one beating heart to music. Never has been, no matter what the A&R suits and the genre-infatuated program directors might say. Proof of that fact runs rampant in north Texas these days, and down in old Cowtown some of the best ply their trade for tourists and friends with little regard for the big old spotlight and its constraints. Terry Rasor is always at ease pulling up a stool with that crowd, and rightfully so. He’s been making music in and around Fort Worth for more decades than many of the folks who wander into the White Elephant any given day have been alive. Worked and played with musical giants ranging from Billy Joe Shaver to John Nitzinger and everywhere in between. Reading on this site, it seems a given you already know Shaver; if Nitzinger is new to you go do some legwork. His brand of rock and blues helped set the stage for some of the biggest acts you’ve ever heard of. And he’s still going today.
Rasor himself has been less than prolific in the studio; A Lonesome Sound is just his sixth release in a forty some odd year career. And two of those previous records were live albums. It’s not for want of talent or opportunity; Terry’s the type who writes and picks terrific songs with equal ease and aplomb. But he just seems to prefer playing live. He’s always around, always got a gig at some friendly little joint where the food’s good and the beer’s cold and the folks are friendly. He also seventeen years into planning, managing, and hosting his annual festival titled, aptly, Raz On the Braz. Just Terry and a bunch of grizzled, seasoned pickers and Lord knows how many of their closest friends enjoying music and life and compadres on the banks of the rural Brazos River. John Graves may have memorialized the waterway in his landmark 1960 work “Goodbye To A River,” but Rasor and friends have made sure that even though the topography and water flow have changed the spirit of a lifeline for the land has remained intact.
You’re figuring out by now that Terry Rasor is an interesting customer, interested in what he’s interested in and not overly concerned with what others might think. And you’re right. So it’s always a treat when a new record from him makes its way to the shelves. A Lonesome Sound is no exception. Take a quick look at the roster of contributors, and anyone who’s familiar with Texas music sees a constellation of stars. Roy Robinson wrote two tracks, and chips in guitar work and backing vocals. (You know Roy, even if you don’t think you do; he wrote “The Cowboy Song.” Some guy named Garth did okay with that track on one of his releases back in the ‘90s) Davin James. Tommy Alverson. Guitar slinger extraordinaire Randy Langley. Two-thirds of Blacktop Gypsy (Heather Stalling, Andie Kay Joyner). Dirt Stinnett. Milo Deering. The list just keeps going.
And the record itself delivers on all the promise. It’s a gem top to bottom. Rasor sports a weathered baritone (Tommy Alverson calls it “gruff,” and he may have a point) that fits to a tattered soul the way an old broke-in baseball glove fits to your hand. Not just functional, it gets down into the crevices and makes itself at home. Not the kind of voice to be squandered on mindless songs. And there are no mindless songs in sight on A Lonesome Sound. There’s quite a range in topics, much the way campfire conversations go when the moon is gone and the stars are bright and dawn is still a fair piece away. You’ll find bold manifestos, pensive ruminations, insightful metaphors and even Brushy Bill Roberts, who might or might not have been Billy the Kid.
While it’s impossible to capture on any recording the essence and vitality of what Terry Rasor always delivers live, this record comes about as close as can be. The stories and the wandering spirit infusing them fit Raz’s big baritone perfectly. A Lonesome Sound is the sort of record that won’t get old, that’ll wrap around you like a coat from the cold and make the back porch seem a mighty fine place to spend an evening just watching dusk race the sun for the horizon.
~ Dave Pilot
Dave Pilot lives in north Texas with his first good wife (don’t ask about the other one), seven horses, and five dogs. When his wife’s not looking, he tries to figure out ways to feed the 987 or so cats to the coyotes out behind the fenceline. When he’s not trying to raise his kids to turn out better than he did, he’s hitting historical sites on his way to honky-tonks from Denton to Port Aransas. Visit Dave Pilot on Facebook.
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