Wild Earp and his band The Free for Alls used to hold down a swanky bar on Chicago’s Northside called the Califonia Clipper. Their monthly performances were where they developed a lot of their tunes, live and on stage, with a healthy dose of audience feedback, that was usually received in the form of outright adulation.
The California Clipper is no more now. It was one of the casualties of COVID 19. But Wild Earp and his band remain alive and kicking like a mule. Proof of this fact is offered in the form of a bonified new release, Dyin’ for Easy Livin‘—out now on Western Myth.
As you might have gathered from the name, Dyin’ for Easy Livin‘ is a classic, country-and-western-styled album, one that prizes double-entendre and clever turns of phrase the same way a farmer may prize a handsome swine she’s trucked to the county fair.
It might not seem fancy, but it is good, clean, toe-tappin’ fun. Dyin’ for Easy Livin‘ is primed and polished to impress, and the band are ready to soak up your oooohs and aaaahs, and other gesticulations of approval.
It’s legitimately hard not to crack a smile when saddling up to the twangy, rockabilly rambler of “Ain’t It a Shame (When Your Horse Goes Lame),” as its bouncing, dirt-road beat and the light shuffle of its fiddle solos yeilds a folksy, “aw shucks” lament.
An opener like the aforementioned track makes for a wide, warm welcome, and is a great way to kick things off with a pinch of gun powder. The follow-up “Livin’ the Life” is better representative of the band’s tempo and temperament—a swaggering, swash of plucky guitar strums, steeped in homespun beguile, and dealing out witticism like it was chicken feed.
If there is one thing that Wild Earp loves more than building a song on a clever idiom, its penning a love song around his choice in parlance. It’s on songs like “I Drew the Water” and “Ain’t Nobody’s Business But My Own” where he duets with Kiley “Sweet Sassy Molassey” Moore that Earp’s sense of humor truely works its way to the surface, along with his vulnerabilities, and the latent Johnny Cash and June Carter influences of Free for Alls.
Beyond lending to the heart-enboldening, verbal tangos, of the previously mentioned tracks a distinctive charm, Sweet Sassy’s vocals also give pop country numbers like “Smile Like That” a gratifyingly soulful quality. But incase you thought she was all kitten nips and puppy love, the tough-as-nails side of her stage persona comes out on the hootenanny backed roar of “You Don’t Mess with a Lioness” on which you are warned to pay your due respects or feel the cut of her claws slicing through your jib.
There are many more sides to Earp and The Free for Alls that I haven’t even touched on yet, like the swinging and groovey gambler’s grab and dash of “Playin’ with House Money” featuring hillbilly heat of guitarist and vocalist Jed “Valentine” Taylor, or the coronary inducing, bank-breaking, country-blues skamper of “Big Mistake on Daddy’s Dime.”
There is even more where that came from if you fancy. And all you have to do to experience yourself is is pull up a stool and give these roguish guys and gal a sliver of your afternoon. A small price to pay for a good time in my ledger.
Buy and steam Dyin’ for Easy Livin’ below via Bandcamp: