Coming to a city built on attitude and pretense Wayne “the Train” Hancock would have none of it. Instead he won over the packed and adoring crowd at the Rodeo Bar with his signature brand of straight-up hillbilly swing in support of his current Bloodshot Records release “Tulsa.” Wayne Hancock is the real deal. No attitude, image consultation or arrogant disdain for his fans. Wayne was a genuine gentleman when I introduced myself and shook his hand (as was his smoking band – Eddie Biebel on lead guitar and the rhythm slappin’ Jake Erwin on Doghouse Bass.)
Rebellion by way of tradition is part of the typical Hancock MO. A tough ex-Marine, Hancock has likened himself to a stab wound in the Nashville fabric of country music. Playing his standard 2 1/2 hr plus show and good-naturedly hamming it up with his band and taking shouted requests from the refreshingly rowdy Manhattan crowd (Yeeehaw booooeeey!) Hancock and his band tore up the stage with a Texas-sized attitude. Hancock covered most of his career, burning through versions of “That’s What Daddy Wants”, ” Highway 54″, “Flatland Boogie” All songs done without a net , no set list, songs called out on the fly or taken from the audience. Near the break Mr. Mark O’connor joined the band onstage for a few songs and a killer version of the fiddle classic “Orange Blossom Special.”
Wayne’s voice has some of the same characteristics as Hank Williams, grandson Hank III likes to say that Hancock sounds more like Hank than Hank did, but Hancock is far too modest to take that compliment to heart. Wayne said in a recent interview: “I always say that’s a nice compliment, when people say that, but could you keep your voice down a little bit?” he says, laughing. “That’s kind of a silly thing to say. How can you sound better than the person who sang it? You can’t. It’s a nice compliment, but it’s like, ‘Geez, man, get a life. Is there a bull’s-eye on me or what?’”
But the sound and style are there, there’s no doubting it. For some of the best in no-bullshit Texas honky-tonk music done with style, passion and grace you can’t do any better than Mr. Wayne “the Train” Hancock.