T. Buckley Tuesdays happen each week at Wine-Ohs Bistro and Cellar from 8 p.m. ‘til close, sometime around midnight. Buckley and his band fill the night with three sets of country ballads, a mix between gentle and spry folk, and even few rockers. There’s no cover and the beer is priced right.

Coming to the end of the midnight set, Buckley launches into a rousing version of Springsteen’s “Open All Night,” an underrated barn-burner in contrast to most of the dark, introspective tales of Nebraska. As a finale, he puts his heart into “Streets of Baltimore,” the sweet tearjerker that country crooner Gram Parsons made a classic.

Backed by local guitar vet Tim Leacock, who also plays a spicy mandolin, along with upright bassist Derek Pulliam, the trio turn out warm, flowing melodies with a little grit on the edge that taps into a pure vein of country soul. The title for Buckley’s third release, Northern Country Soul, is a good fit.

Certainly there are a lot of lush mountain scenes, campfire quiet and wide-open roads that tumble out of Buckley’s melody lines and honest lyrics. But there’s also a door cracked slightly agar, leading to a landscape not so serene and easy-going.

“That guy is like a couple of buddies I know,” reveals Buckley about the lost alcoholic in “Higher than the Moon.” “Actually, about one in particular, he had a pretty rough go of it with the booze. It got pretty scary. He was telling me about his folks, his uncle, it’s just one of those things his whole family wrestled with.” Addiction in the blood. “Yeah, exactly.”

Said his old man would go out drinking, and he’d get higher than the moon
Now generations of looking through the bottle, makes it hard to find some truth

The spookiest tune on the recording, “On A Wire,” recounts an incident in a surf town Buckley visited in Mexico. He heard about a kid that worked a DVD stand selling pirated discs who “was skimming off a mob run operation. They beat him once as a warning, and when he didn’t stop, they shot him. He was 16 or 17. I remember seeing his memorial on this old cobblestone road that wound down to the beach. It was heavy,” says Buckley nodding quietly for a moment.

This latest release was recorded by Miles Wilkinson, originally from Winnipeg but worked in Nashville for a number of years engineering records for Anne Murray, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Linda Ronstadt and other country greats. Accompanied by mandolin, harmonica, fiddle and West Coast legend Charlie Hase’s weeping steel pedal guitar, the songs oscillate between the intricacy of a full band and the stripped down intimacy of Buckley’s trio… convicted to country, in the first degree.

By B. Simm

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