James Hand seems like a character in Red Foley's classic "Tennessee Saturday Night," where "their music is a fiddle and a cracked guitar / they get their kicks from an old fruit jar / they do the boogie to an old square dance / the woods are full of couples lookin' for romance / somebody takes his brogue and knocks out the light / yes, they all go native on a Saturday night." Hand occupies a hair-raising musical space somewhere between the poor-boy Alabama-dirt-road lonesomeness of Hank Williams and the hell-raisin' hillbilly rock of Carl Perkins. He's been "going native" for so long now, he's achieved legendary status the hard way, by just showing up at places like Blanco's and laying down some of the most legit honky-tonk that's ever been played. With pithy titles like "Shadows Where the Magic Was" and "Baby, Baby, Don't Tell Me That," Hand's honky-tonk is so real he makes Alan Jackson and Randy Travis sound like Pat Boone. The drinkin' and cheatin' songs are cut straight from hardwood floors, as is James Hand. They don't make 'em like this guy anymore.
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