If anyone knows the value of a hard dollar, it's Hadden Sayers. Several musical generations ago, the native Houstonian singer/guitarist's eponymous band ruled the local blues-rock scene alongside Carolyn Wonderland and Miss Molly & the Whips. He was a fixture at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge and in the weekly columns of our music-editor predecessors, releasing several albums and playing as many as 200 dates a year on the road. Then around 2004, the trouble started. First his momentum was sapped by "a haze of bad business deals, excuses and rip-offs," according to his Web site, one company disappearing literally the day after a handshake deal. After Sayers had relocated to Ohio, where his wife had taken a job, his uncle and drummer Rick Frye collapsed after a gig and died shortly thereafter. Sayers put down his guitar and moved to a decrepit fishing shack, where he met an old stonemason who helped him restore the house — and his confidence — piece by piece. The result is Hard Dollar (Blue Corn Music), an album that may have been recorded in Ohio, but is Texas through and through. Dotted with tributes to Lone Star icons like Freddie King ("Take Me Back to Texas"), T-Bone Walker ("Lap of Luxury") and Lightnin' Hopkins ("Hippie Getaway"), Hard Dollar is unified by Sayers's smooth guitar tone and grizzled John Hiatt-like vocals, which deliver the words with the weathered maturity of a man who, as he says, "has done things the right way, and not the easy way."
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