The boys of the Outfit have been performing together since 2004. Surprisingly, the first time I heard them was last year at the State Theater in Modesto. I had purchased tickets to see the extraordinary band House of Orange and got an extra bonus with TGLTSO.
I was so impressed with what I had heard that I purchased two of their three albums: “The Ghost of Good Manners” and “Old Excuses.” Their self-titled debut album was sold out.
The wife and I became instant fans. We planned a vacation in Santa Cruz with some friends for the sole purpose of catching another show, this time at the Scotts Valley Beer Festival.
It would be easy to make general comparisons to such great bands as Old Crow Medicine Show, Del McCoury Band or The Avett Brothers. But these guys produce something unique
It’s impossible to merely label the Outfit as country and western, or old timey bluegrass. They are a culmination of everything great that pertains to those genres.
The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit Consists of singer-songwriters Chris Doud (vocals and guitar) of Modesto, Willy “Tea” Taylor (vocals, guitar and banjo) of Oakdale, former Grandaddy drummer and accomplished visual artist Aaron Burtch (drums) of Turlock, Taylor Webster (bass and vocals), Matt Cordano (steel guitar) and Chandler Pratt (mandolin).
The Outfit’s latest release, “Old Excuses,” was actually recorded in 2012. The fact that I’ve just now decided to review it is shameful on my part. Truth be told, this wasn’t the best Americana album of 2012. Contrarily, it is the best Americana album of 2012, 2013 and most likely 2014.
Taylor and Doud are both virtuosos in their own right. Taylor has a voice that’s as rich as warm molasses. Doud has one of those stand-out voices; much like the late Bobby Bare or the great Hank Snow, he’s country and he’s got a story to tell. When combined, the two produce a lyrical story that will play in your head long after the music stops.
The drumming from Burtch gives the music yet another dimension that transcends typical country drumming and begs the question: Why don’t more bluegrass bands use a drummer?
Webster’s bass style reminds me of a combination of a young Willie Dixon and current country bass genius Michael Rhodes. His ability to give traditional bluegrass and country a modern feel is effortless.
Any fan of the steel guitar (one of my favorite instruments) would agree that even Paul Franklin or Buddy Emmons would have to tip their hat to Cordano, whose talent is endless. And Pratt ties it all together with his wide-ranging instrumental expertise.
There was an arsenal of instruments used in the making of this album, with upwards of 14 musicians contributing to its completion.
My favorite song on this album is “The Very Best.” It reminds me of the years I spent traveling with work, spending weeks on end away from my family and creating a separation that was almost my undoing. The song tugs at your heartstrings. “I’m not home now but I will be / When I knock upon your door and you heal me … I may not be too good at most things I do / But I’m the very best at missing you.”
The first track of the album “Wolfman” is sung by Doud. It takes you on a seven-plus minute journey that starts out slow then picks up to a fever pitch right about the time the brass section plays. That’s right, you heard me, a brass section.
I could describe every song on the Outfit’s albums, but don’t take it from me. Download them at Heckabad Music or Amazon.com, or give them a listen on YouTube.
Better yet, go to a show, buy a CD there, and meet the band. The next Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit show at The State Theater will be May 3, with Cole Thomason and The (always entertaining) Pine Box Boys, as well as the Sumner Brothers.
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/TheGoodLuckThriftStoreOutfit.