Arty Hill
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Arty Hill

Baltimore, Maryland, United States | INDIE

Baltimore, Maryland, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Country


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"Third Coast Music "Bar of Gold" CD Review"

(Rating - 4.5 out of 5)

Placing bets on [the] Freeform American Roots [Chart], were it possible, would normally
be a nice little earner for me. After all these years, I usually have a pretty good handle on how the current field is likely to run the course, win, place,
show or fade, but last month, when my money would have been on Dave Insley, I
got blindsided. My fault for not studying the form—I hadn’t had a chance to listen
to this album before the first FARsters’ reports broke Baltimore’s Arty Hill & The Long Gone Daddys out of the pack. Plus I didn’t factor in the stable’s track record,
Bill Hunt’s fledgling Cow Island has quickly become a FAR favorite (Starline Rhythm
Boys/Preacher Jack). What gives this album such legs is not so much the vocals, or the sound of the core trio, which includes former Too Much Fun drummer Jack
O’Dell, and its ‘special guests,’ solid as they are, but Hill’s outstanding songwriting,
so powerful that one Austin band’s reputation largely rests on its covers of his material. However, while most of us seemed to have missed out on the 2005 self-
released "Back On The Rail," covering Hill is likely to be less fruitful now his original
versions are being much more widely promoted. I once told a songwriter workshop,
“All the best songs have already been written” (Texas Music Coalition have stopped
inviting me to be on panels, I wonder why?), a rather cruel joke with a solid kernel
of truth, but Hill, Hand, Insley, Serby, Cutrufello, Dayton, Leslie Sloan and a few
others, are demonstrating that there’s still plenty of life in honkytonk, not just ringing
variations on old themes, but coming up with fresh, inventive and often inspired
new angles. Hill’s elliptical construction, most noticeable on If You See Me Comin,
does tend to justify the ‘Neo’ tag often hung on latter day honkytonk songwriters,
but if he’s a child of his times, he’s also firmly rooted in the classic tradition. While
A Wreck Of A Man, sung by O’Dell, and Bring Out The Bible (We Ain’t Got A Prayer)
are likely to hog the airplay, the whole album is tremendous. In fact, hanging with Hill seems to have inspired O’Dell, whose I Might Have Been A Lawyer (But I Couldn’t Pass The Bar), the only one of the 12 tracks not by Hill, holds its own. JC - Third Coast Music Magazine, April 2008

"Blue Suede News "Bar of Gold" CD Review"

This is one of the best Honky Tonk CDs I’ve heard this century, and man, there are some other “real deals” out there. Arty Hill sings less about the sweet and more about the sour side of life in his tales about true life miseries, all played out in the Honky Tonks in the rougher part of town. Witty lyrics echo throughout the album, take “I Might Have Been a Lawyer (But I Couldn’t Pass the Bar),” sung and written by drummer Jack O’Dell. The remaining 11 numbers are Arty Hill originals, all memorable, ranging from up-tempo Honky Tonk with sweet steel guitar (“Don’t Take it out on Tina”) to the heavy beat of “If you see me Comin” and opener “Tore Up Junction” in a Rockabilly fashion. There are sad ballads, swinging classic country, edgy alt. Country, tearjerkers (“Bring out the Bible, We Ain’t got a Prayer”), but most of all Honky tonk at its best, rooted somewhere between the Nashville masters of the 50s and 60s and Buck Owens’ Bakersfield sound. There’s nothing dusty about this [Baltimore] based [four piece] who employ excellent guest musicians on [fiddle and guitar]. Songs about broken hearts will always be relevant. A lightheartedly fingerpicked but sad in nature “Hankin’ Around’” closes the show in best Hank Williams tradition. Excellent Honky Tonk album, fantastic musicianship, outstanding lyrics (printed in the booklet) – Arty Hill & the Long Gone Daddys are the real deal ! - Blue Suede News, #82

"Baltimore Magazine "Bar of Gold" CD Review"

“I’m goin’ down to tore-up junction with a paycheck in my shoe,” Arty Hill sings at the outset of this disc, and that line sets the tone for the hillbilly heartache to come. Hill, an Eastern Shore native, writes country songs with a timeless feel, tunes that play particularly well in a worn F150 barreling down a lost highway—preferably towards some watering hole with the church steeple in the rearview mirror. But in Hill’s world, the honky-tonk rates as more than just a destination. It’s a way of life and functions as a noun (the honky-tonk saved/ruined my life), verb (I’m honky-tonkin’), and adjective (honky-tonk women, honky-tonk nights, honky-tonk music). It’s why the Bible thumpers in his songs haven’t got a prayer, the lawyers can’t pass the bar (without stopping in for a drink), and why Hill, himself, can’t resist “Hankin’ Around.” It’s also why the spirit of Hank Williams lives in these exuberant, rollicking, and wry songs.
- Baltimore Magazine, April 2008

"Miles of Music "Bar of Gold" CD Review"

Lee Gardner wrote in the Baltimore City Paper, "Hank Williams makes it sound easy, but it's hard to write a classic country song. You've gotta hit just the right mix of plain-spokenness and poetry, a timeless emotion and a fresh scenario, down-home flavor and sophisticated melody. Local country singer/songwriter Arty Hill has been at it for years, and his hard work has paid off; his new Bar of Gold CD features any number of tunes that wouldn't sound out of place on an old-school honky-tonk jukebox, from the swinging sigh of "I'm Thinkin' It's Better This Way" to the sing-along good-talking-to of "Don't Take It Out on Tina." Hill might be a fixture on the Baltimore scene, but his musical roots are more Southern. His warm, melodic voice accompained by a twangy telecaster, create an overall sound that drives down the well-worn asphalt of old-time honky tonkers while keeping the vibe fresh and alive.

" "Bar of Gold" CD Review"

Bill Hunt's Boston-based Cow Island label strives to keep the honkytonk sound alive. Not just any honkytonk sound, mind you. Just about alone of any American label I know of, it celebrates that moment in the mid- to late 1950s when country music and rock 'n' roll rubbed shoulders and electricity, virtual and literal, crackled. Make no mistake, in that golden era Cow Island's acts would have been judged country singers, meaning they would have performed in country venues and had their records spun on country radio stations. In that sense, though rockabilly is inevitably part of their sound, they aren't rockabilly artists as such.

It's a distinction meaningful, perhaps, only to those who know something of genre history as well as to those who've been around long enough to remember all this when it was new to the world. For the rest, here's the difference: Rockabilly was beat music, country narrative music. Consequently, for the former, lyrics amounted to primitive, rhythmic shouts (exhortations to dance, party, make out, drive fast), but the latter trafficked in adult experience and emotion, mostly -- albeit not invariably -- sorrowful. Put stomp and story together, or at least side by side when not joined at shakin' hip, and you've got something like Arty Hill & the Long Gone Daddys and Preacher Jack, or the Starline Rhythm Boys (whose Red's Place I reviewed in this space on 22 December 2007).

Inasmuch as I am wildly enamored of this sort of thing, it's a struggle to maintain objective critical distance whenever I hear it done even half competently. Arty Hill & the Long Gone Daddys, who hail from Baltimore and vicinity, are quite a lot more than half competent. If your ears crave that good ol' honkabilly sound, this band will give 'em what they need. On top of that, Hill is an able songwriter (all but one of the songs are his) whose compositions rock up the honkytonk and then slow the music down so that tear may trickle down cheek into brew. Some will draw smiles or even tickle belly laughs, since another tradition Hill and company honor is witty wordplay, as in "Bring Out the Bible (We Ain't Got a Prayer)" and "I Might Have Been a Lawyer (But I Couldn't Pass the Ba r)," the latter the creation of band drummer Jack O'Dell.

Following the model of the original honkabilly bands, Hill & the Daddys are a trio. That's how you'd see them in their native habitat, the blue-collar bars of the Middle Atlantic states. For this recording, however, Dobro and steel (Dave Giegerich), fiddle (Heather Twigg) and other guitarists (Andy Bopp, Jim Stephanson, Pete Kanaras) fatten the sound on a few cuts. It all works to serve higher hillbilly purpose.

(rest of article is about Preacher Jack) -


Baltimore Reasons - 2004
Back on the Rail - 2005
Bar of Gold - 2008
Montgomery on My Mind - 2009



"If Honky Tonk has a future, hopefully it will sound a lot like [Arty Hill’s] 'Driftin' In' or 'Bring out the
Bible (We Ain’t Got A Prayer)' -- Houston Press
Baltimore, Maryland, a hotbed of Honky Tonk? Thankfully, with Arty Hill in town, it’s becoming just that! Arty’s songs marry the soul of classic country with the wry storytelling of Townes Van Zandt, and have been recorded by Austin’s Texas Sapphires, the Grammy-nominated Kenny and Amanda Smith Band, and award-winning Alt-Country pioneers, Jason & the Scorchers. He sings with an "'everyman' quality…reminiscent of Johnny Cash." Vintage Guitar Magazine. And with his recent recordings topping the FAR chart, it's no wonder calls him "a country songwriter of the first order." His new tribute to Hank Williams (including three new original tunes about Hank and his music) further cements Arty’s standing as a confident new voice in real country music.
A native of Cambridge, Maryland, Arty played bass with local bands at VFW and American Legion halls while still in his teens. Though Nashville was solidly rejecting steel guitars and fiddles in favor of a more pop-oriented sound, the music of Hank Williams and George Jones remained popular in Arty’s hometown. He spent hours learning the country "canon," and reveling in the joy and pain heard in the music of his singing and songwriting heroes.
Arty later moved to Baltimore, and recorded two solo CDs of original songs – "Based on Real Life" and "Baltimore Reasons" - and his first full-band effort, 2005’s "Back on the Rail." Recorded with the original Long Gone Daddys lineup of Dave Chappell on Telecaster and Craig Nachodsky on drums, "Back on the Rail" is a stripped-down, raucous, song-centered gem: 11 original tunes, ranging from the Sun-era rockabilly of "Jackson Shake" and "Big Daddy’s Rye" to the stone country "Based on Real Life" and "Me & My Glass Jaw." "Drenched in sawdust-on-the-floor feeling and smarty sequenced, this entertaining release is what country music used to be all about." (Country Standard Time). And from Blue Suede News: "This self-released jewel is much too good to be overlooked. In fact, it's awesome...a great, mature release."

"Back on the Rail" soon garnered the attention of Bill Hunt's upstart country label, Cow Island Music. Arty and Cow Island joined forces in 2007, along with a re-vamped version of the Long Gone Daddys – including Jack O’Dell (Bill Kirchen and Too Much Fun, The Twangbangers) on drums, Steve Potter on upright bass, Dave Giegerich (The Hula Monsters) on steel guitar and dobro, and Arty on Telecaster. Their first Cow Island release, 2008’s "Bar of Gold," spent two consecutive months at #1 on the Freeform American Roots (FAR) Chart. Jason Ringenberg approved, proclaiming in the liner notes: "I doubt there is a better country album put out this year...the ghost of Buck is truly honored." It received 4.5 out of 5 stars from San Antonio’s Third Coast music, which raved "The whole album is tremendous…" At year’s end, Arty and the Long Gone Daddys made four of the FAR Chart’s "Best of 2008" lists: Best Songwriter, Best Male Artist, Best Group, and Album of the Year, while Cow Island took the FAR Chart’s "Best in the Industry" award. And "Bar of Gold" was named one of the Top 20 Albums of the Year in the 2008 No Depression Reader’s Poll.
In April 2009, Cow Island re-released "Back on the Rail," and it climbed to #9 on the FAR Chart. As one blogger noted: "If you’re like me and are wondering who the hell Arty Hill & the Long Gone Daddys is and why their 5 year old debut record Back on the Rail is in the top ten of the Americana Charts then let me explain. The band’s debut has just recently been re-released. And apparently this 5 year old honky-tonk is better than most of the stuff coming out at the moment." Around the same time, Arty played four showcases at Third Coast Music's renegade NotSXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. He and his backing band of Austin pickers, the Pearl Dusters, consistently brought the house down, filling the dance floor at every show.
"Montgomery on my Mind; The Hank EP" is Arty's latest recording with the Long Gone Daddys. WZBC’S Cousin Kate raves: "The combination of Hank Williams classics and authentic originals reminds us all why we're still in love with 'ol Hank. There's a dead-on version of 'I Can't Help It if I'm Still in Love with You' (reminiscent of Hank's confessional duet with Anita Carter) and a boppin' treatment of 'Take These Chains from My Heart.' The originals are strong too: 'Church on Saturday Night,' a celebration of the Grand Ol' Opry's golden era, and the title track, an ode to Hank's hometown. And I really love 'Don's Bop,' a swinging tribute to steel great Don Helms! Timeless covers, and soon-to-be-covers...all in one nifty EP!"
Arty is currently touring the east coast, southeast and Texas. Meanwhile, have a listen and we’re sure you’ll agree that Honky Tonk’s future is still