Tonio K. &
16 Tons of Monkeys,
(Gadfly, 2001)

Tonio K and the band play music that hits you in the gut. Or, that is, they did play such music. Songs played on this Live album were written mainly between 1989 and 1990 and the music was recorded before 1999.

This recording is created from an untouched live-recorded radio show that was broadcast from a club called Pearl's in North Austin. I would have liked to have been in the crowd. 16 Tons of Monkeys was a Texas band though many members came from outside the Austin area, but they played the clubs between Corpus Christi and Dallas. With a lot of verve and energy, if this CD is anything to go by.

Opening with a blast of "I Handle Snakes," the CD starts off with good country rock 'n' raunch. Gorgeously exciting music.

When the second cut begins, you might take a look around for Matt Minglewood. Those who don't know him, look him up! Listen to "I Don't Belong Here" and you'd swear it was him, same style and just about the same voice. Did I say energetic?

It's a bundle of original country blues, "played just for fun," by very professional musicians. But the group was fluid and musicians came and went and filled in. Among their numbers besides Tonio K. were Don Harvey, Scott Garber, David Halley, Reese Wynans, Bukka Allan, Jerry Holmes, Charlie Sexton and from the sound of it a few more transients.

Tonio K had a hand in most of the songwriting and, as with many country tunes, it's all in the presentation. There's a lot of weight to a few of them, there's a lot of cool country whining to a couple, and a little too much crying in the beer in one. But the presentation remains strong throughout, the music is a rhythmic treat, and if this is your kind of music you're going to enjoy a copy of this CD. For sure y'all.

[ by Virginia MacIsaac ]
Rambles: 23 March 2002

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