Mike Cullison
And The Regulars
JoeDog Records
4 stars

Music for the honky-tonk soul

An interesting concept, this Tennessee singer-songwriter Mike Cullison aka 'The Roadhouse Rambler' and also Hollis of the Oasis Bar in East Nashville has put together an album of ten very good songs in classic country style, using customers who frequent his bar as the subject of the songs. All human life is here: the heartbroken lover, the warring couple, the scarlet woman, the lonely drinker and well you can guess the rest. He introduces each song with some homespun truths from the ageing bartender well-versed in the ways of the world. On first play this innovation was warming but it definitely palled the second and third time around. All the information you need is on the very useful liner notes.

Mike wrote or co wrote all of the songs and has some formidable talent on board to help with the performances. All are well-known around the Nashville scene, particularly singers Brian and Natalie Langlinlais. Brian does a great job on the upbeat Who turned You Loose—the tale of a freewheeling guy who gets smitten and changed forever in ways that he just never thought were possible, whilst Natalie evokes strong memories of Patsy Cline, yearning for lost love on Ghost Of My Heart. There are plenty of other favourable comparisons to be made here; Travis Lamb brings his Hank Locklin lilting sound to Just Another Night, which is the story of a still well-remembered date from many years back and Prayn' For Rain (Jon Byrd) and 'Til I See Her With Him (Davis Raines) are the kind of relaxed country songs that would fit comfortable onto an Alan Jackson album. Another 'Regular," a fairly prosaic name it has to be said for this collection of talent, Mark Robinson does the vocals on the very entertaining rock song Good And Evil—a rock song where you can hear all the words (now there is a novelty). This one is about a woman who is trouble with a capital T.

However my pick of the bunch is the superb vocal styling of Tiffany Huggins Grant on As The Cold Sets In; the tale of love that once burned so brightly now going so wrong. Mike rounds the whole thing off with the title track which reveals the true inspiration for this album; Johnny Potts, the proprietor of the now sadly demised bar and diner The Sutler, forced out by property redevelopment in the Melrose district of Nashville. Bars and diners aside even in Nashville; I don't believe that there is too much of this great music about anymore. Paul Collins

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