Joe Baker and his Barefoot Brakemen have been playing all over their hometown of Portland, OR for several years now. Their music has been called “dixie-tonk” and can be described as being equal parts country, jazz, and blues, with influences being mostly from the 78 rpm era. On “Shook, Broke, Hung”, their 2008 debut release, the band disregards current popular music with a sound rooted deeply in the past.
Recorded onto tape and mixed in mono by Mike Coykendall (M Ward, She & Him, Tin Hat Trio), the bulk of "Shook, Broke, Hung" was done as a live 5-piece band in one room with no amplifiers, all in one day. Instrumentation consisted of steel-string acoustic guitar (Joe Baker), mandolin and tenor banjo (Christen Hubbard), drums (Richmond Fontaine’s, Sean Oldham), upright bass (Jim Delaney) and piano (Joey Prather). The following day David Goldstein (founding member of Hackensaw Boys) was brought in to add some fiddle to a couple of numbers. Finally, Joe added some steel guitar and then completed all of his vocals (Christen managed to squeeze in a background vocal on one song). On the third day it was all mixed.
The result is an inspired collection of songs that showcase each player as they take on five Baker originals (three bluesy honky-tonk weepers, "Why Are You Doing This To Me", "Wiping Back These Tears", and "Wasn't That Nice", the ragtimey, "Owyhee River Home" and the hillbilly-boogie instrumental, "Baker's Boogie"), renditions of songs by the likes of The Delmore Brothers ("Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar"), Lefty Frizzell (You Want Everything But Me"), Peggy Lee (I'm Gonna Go Fishin'"), Porter Wagoner ("A Satisfied Mind"), as well as their take on two dixieland jazz standards ("Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" and the instrumental "China Boy").
Lively, raw, exciting, and fun, and with a dose of plaintiveness, sorrow and heartbreak for good measure, “Shook, Broke, Hung”, is sure to bring Joe Baker and his Barefoot Brakemen to the attention of those seeking a great new band with an old-style sensibility. Recommended for fans of country, blues and jazz.