The core duo of The Hickman-Dalton Gang are singer-songwriters Johnny Hickman (Cracker) and Jim Dalton (Railbenders, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers). In June 2011, The HDG released Volume II, a full-length, full-band album celebrating the band's country roots, rock foundation and wisecracking nature. Hickman blogged about the pending release: Volume II was threatening to be "a howling, good natured, electrified, stomping honky tonk opera of sorts."
The formation of The Hickman-Dalton Gang in 2007 created a perfect outlet for both songwriters, where timeless country could shine (as it did in 2007's dark and spare EP, The Hickman Dalton Gang Volume I, which the duo showcased through memorable acoustic shows). While Cracker has always had a roots/Southern rock side, owing largely to Hickman's Bakersfield days, Cracker are known primarily as godfathers of alt-rock due to their platinum success in the 1990s. Dalton's Railbenders, on the other hand, have dominated Denver's live "hard country" scene since their emergence, garnering them awards and choice opening slots with Willie, Dwight Yoakam, and more. The Hickman-Dalton Gang has allowed the two friends to collaborate, as well as elaborate, on what country comprises for each of them.
2011's ten-song Volume II spreads itself wide as the Western sky, from tender (Dalton's "Too Many Years") to 190-proof rock (Hickman's "Wildcard") to the Cash-channeled co-write "Long White Line." Co-produced and engineered by Jeremy Lawton (Big Head Todd and the Monsters), Volume II resonates with vintage country sound, enjoying its energy upgrade to full-band, and delivering an album that delectably spans lowbrow, middle class, and high-octane all in one shot.