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Taylor Atkinson Band offers Wormy Dog audience 'Too Much Whiskey'

Andrew W. Griffin
Singer Taylor Atkinson performs with his band at the Wormy Dog Saloon in Oklahoma City (11/4/11)
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Riding high on the release of his full-band five-song EP, Too Much Whiskey, Red Dirt singer and musician Taylor Atkinson headlined a Friday night gig at Oklahoma City’s Wormy Dog Saloon and performed all the songs – and a few covers – from the new recording.

It was in the summer of 2009 that Red Dirt Report first became acquainted with Atkinson. At the time we interviewed the Midwest City, Okla. native, he had released an independent album titled Beautiful Disaster and was playing acoustic gigs wherever he could. He was also getting some radio airplay while impressing critics with soul-baring, sensitive fare like "Disappear Into My Sheets."

In the intervening two years, Atkinson has put together the Taylor Atkinson Band and they have been playing Too Much Whiskey, a recording made here in Oklahoma City and sponsored in part by Shiner Beer, has a great and varied Red Dirt sound from start to finish.

On Friday night, back at the Wormy Dog, Atkinson, along with guitarist/pedal-steel player Mike Mayes, bassist Kyle Hohlier, drummer Derek Box and fiddle player/ multi-instrumentalist Johnathan Cross took to the stage as Jake FM’s Tony “Rooster” Brown introduced the guys who were rarin’ to go. It was the CD release party and there was much to celebrate.

Kicking off with “Too Much Whiskey, Too Much Heartache” the TAB was clicking along. Each band member seems comfortable and by the time they get to the country ballad “First Dance,” another Atkinson original, the whiskey is giving him the courage to approach that girl and have that … first dance. And out on the floor of the Wormy Dog, several couples are dancing. The crowd is clearly enjoying the music and the merchandise table looks busy.

Interesting that Shiner Beer, a Texas brand, has taken an interest in Atkinson and the boys. A Shiner rep is going around giving out T-shirts promoting the new Shiner Light Blonde, a refreshing brew.

Atkinson’s earnest, plaintive voice comes from a deep place as he sings.

Performing “This Time Around,” a Randy Rogers song, which was also made into a hit by Cross Canadian Ragweed a few years back. TAB has a firm grip on the song and offer up recognizable cover songs during their increasingly frequent gigs.

There have been some line-up changes in the Taylor Atkinson Band over the past two years. A fiddle player has come and gone. He’s on his third drummer and a guitarist with more of a rock flair moved on earlier this year. The core group of Atkinson, Mayes, Hohlier and Box is tight, especially with Mayes’s talents as a lead guitarist, pedal-steel player and harmonica player. Mayes’s instruments add a deeper and refreshing element to TAB’s sound, as evidenced on Too Much Whiskey.

There’s a Southern-rock grittiness to “Jaded” and the more straightforward and crisp Red Dirt vibe on “Let’s Not Make Tonight Goodbye” make both songs strong contenders on the five song disc. They also sound pretty great live as well.

Check out one of TAB’s strongest tracks – the dusty, melancholy Americana of “If I Was Wrong.” Mayes’s pedal-steel work is understated, yet powerful. Box’s drumming gets stronger as the track proceeds. It’s Atkinson’s best vocal performance on the disc.

If there’s a theme at all on Too Much Whiskey, it’s evident in the album title – drinking and the ups and downs of relationships. It’s something that rings true because Atkinson himself has had his struggles – and who hasn’t?

Writes Atkinson: “Love, and of course heartbreak, is seen in our first EP. I was in a long relationship that ended so songs like ‘Too Much Whiskey’ and ‘Jaded,’ they just rolled off my pen. Mike Mayes actually wrote the chords to both of the songs and when he played them for me. I immediately knew what they were going to be.

Continuing, Atkinson writes: “The more hopeless romantic side of me is seen in ‘First Dance.’ I was actually at a bar with our bass player Kyle and I saw this girl across the bar that looked drop-dead gorgeous, and instead of going up and talking to her I wrote the song almost entirely at that place on my phone...I still laugh about it.

‘Let's Not Make Tonight Goodbye’ was a song Mike and I both wrote, kind of about wanting to throw in towel with a relationship, but you love them too much just to let them go. Something everyone has felt at one point in their life.

Possibly my favorite song off of this EP is ‘If I Was Wrong.’ I wrote that about something I knew that wasn't right to be in, I knew it was over but I was just blinded by love. The chorus says it best, ‘Well the times we shared weren't all that bad they seem to say. But I'm just one man trying to do things right my way. Praying to God that something in my life go right about now. Because I'm leaving your town your damn right got that pedal down...and it's just killing me.’ That chorus sums it all up about that whole situation.”

And let’s remember – while Atkinson is the frontman and his name is the band’s name, Box, Cross, Hohlier and Mayes are a terrific team. With Too Much Whiskey out now, I suspect the Taylor Atkinson Band has more great Red Dirt music in store.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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