Good music comes in many forms and from thousands of locations. The seeds of Buxter Hoot’n were sown in Northern Indiana by the Dewald brothers and came to fruition in San Francisco during 2006. Vocalist/guitarist/pianist/harmonica player Vince Dewald and bassist/vocalist Jimmy Dewald were joined by guitarist/violinist/vocalist Ben Andrews, drummer/organist/vocalist Jeremy Shanok, and vocalist Melissa Merrill.
They have just released their third self-titled album. They are at heart an American roots band with an emphasis upon their talent as lyricists, courtesy of the Dewald boys. They even had the good sense to include the lyrics in the packaging, which makes for a much easier and more enjoyable listen. They are story tellers who have the ability to paint pictures with their words.
While the melodies may wander a bit at times, they are solid and form a good base for their lyrics. The vocals depend a lot upon the use of harmonies. Melissa Merrill has a good voice to combine with the male leads but, when she steps forward to solo, it brings a different dimension to the band's sound, and I would like to see her used as the lead vocalist more often.
It is a thoughtful and well produced album that demands the listener’s attention. Songs such as “Out The Door” and “Chief Justice Shepard” have a Dylanesque feel in style and the phrasing of the vocals. The first includes some old style Dylan harmonica playing and the second is a biting commentary about the justice system.
Many of the songs travel in different directions. “Go Get Your Gun” has a distinct Spanish flavor and uses the violin as a lead instrument. “Thought I Heard You Say” features Merrill as the lead vocalist and her sad and soulful voice moves the song in a country direction. “Cover Band” finds the band uniting in a fuller sound.
Buxter Hoot’n is a work in progress, but their self-titled album demonstrates they have a lot of talent and skills to build upon. The career of good bands are journeys and Buxter Hoot’n has taken another satisfying step forward.