Even if you fancy yourself a fan of Americana, it's entirely plausible that you've never heard of Lubbock legend Butch Hancock, which is a shame because there are very few who do it so well. Certainly Hancock's low-profile, workman-like approach plays a part in the criminal lack of notoriety that attends his illustrious career of more than 40 years. For this particular cowboy-poet and progressive country bard, the harsh lights of fame hold no allure because the true value in songcraft is in the execution, not in the aftermath.
While Hancock may not exactly be a household name, those who are familiar with Texas music will most certainly be acquainted with his rock-infused alt-country band The Flatlanders. Something of a supergroup, though far from that blustery designation in its humble 1972 beginnings, The Flatlanders also features esteemed West Texas singer-songwriters Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Interestingly enough, it was really only after the band's three members found mixed solo success that The Flatlanders gained an extensive following. And it has only been since 2000, more than 25 years after the group's founding that The Flatlanders have consistently released material. The act's best work, the Live in '72 album put out in 2004 on New West Records, was actually recorded in relative obscurity 28 years earlier at an Austin honky-tonk called One Knite.
Hancock, playing a singularly intimate show at Wolverton Home Concerts, is an especially deft lyricist, easily finding the simple but powerful beauty in a train song ("Boxcars") or elucidating the human struggle through metaphors about a small town dance hall ("West Texas Waltz"). His songs, often accompanied by fantastic rambling stories, range from challenging ruminations on the large contained within the small, to simple and surprisingly rich explorations of common themes like love, work, rural life and the struggle between good and evil. For those looking to study up ahead of this special showcase, Hancock's 20-plus album discography will no doubt seem a bit daunting. We recommend you start with his masterpiece, 1978's West Texas Waltzes & Dust-blown Tractor Tunes. For the more adventurous, take a dive into No Two Alike, a career- spanning feast of songs recorded in 1990 over six shows at Austin's Cactus Cafe, wherein Hancock didn't repeat a single tune.
Butch Hancock, $15, 7:30 p.m., Friday, November 7, Wolverton Home Concerts (RSVP for address), facebook.com/WolvertonHomeConcerts
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