Like a dirty joke or a classic National Lampoon magazine, a little bawdy humor is always welcome, especially in music.
Its far more appealing than any songs by ballooned pop stars trying to exploit some career indulging message. Its honest, open and interesting, using humor and odd-ball imagery in song to lure listeners into a world of weird old America.
Its the kind of music Truckstop Honeymoons done on six records and in countless shows. The husband-and-wife duo of guitarist, banjo and mandolin player Mike West and bassist/banjoist Katie Euliss play a cross between insurgent country-bluegrass and hi-octane rockabilly with hints of New Orleans vaudevillian jazz.
They sing of dive bars and cheap speed, roadside eateries and sordid yet honest love affairs.
Their aggressive take on American music is honest and real and theyll play Wednesday at Ska Brewing Co. for Durango Acoustic Musics members appreciation concert.
If their music is real, its nothing compared to the couples real-life story. They met and began playing music together in New Orleans. When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Truckstop Honeymoon was on tour, unable to get back to The Big Easy to save their home and recording studio in the lower ninth ward.
The outcome was similar for all in that neighborhood; they lost it all. So they stayed on tour, and at the urging of the late Kirk Rundstrom of Split Lip Rayfield, they settled in Kansas. Split Lip and Rundstrom have both recorded music using Wests home-based studio.
Kansas fit for them.
Its been an area of the country where people have been good to us, we have a good following here. Its somewhere we could make a go at it as musicians, said West last week from his home in Lawrence.
Kansas was somewhere we could afford to live, theres a lot of music here, and people love and support the music, and its worked out really well.
Like Split Lip Rayfield, Truckstop Honeymoon often gets lumped into an acoustic punk-grass realm, though their music, now more than ever, reflects their love of New Orleans. The live shows are stripped down and simple like a two-piece should be, but their studio releases are loaded with instrumentation like horns and keyboards.
Were influenced by old country, but our other love is old jazz and R & B; New Orleans music, West said.
Since weve moved to Kansas weve met a bunch of horn players, so were recording more jazz-influenced things than we ever did in New Orleans.
Humor and satire is as common in their songs as aggressive playing. Perhaps thats something that helped him keep himself and his family (they travel with all four kids when on tour) together when they lost their home and studio in 2005. Songs like Jesus Aint Done Jack and Homemade Haircut are funny, autobiographical reflections of the songwriters.
To me humor is an expression of the profounder and sadder things really. I love old comic records, humorist records because they came out of tough times. If you listen they describe those times better than something kind of morose West said.
Things that are raunchy and crass capture the times and the toughness; you make light of it and it describes it better. Thats stuff that I admire, humor in music; theres something deep in it, but not to detract from it being funny.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.