The Derailers

Many moons ago, my brother and I were leaving a show at Rockefeller's, and as we passed the Satellite Lounge, we heard this twanging Bakersfield guitar and a great honky-tonk voice. We caught only the tail end of the show, but we were knocked out enough to buy one of the band's records, this low-fi, live-at-KUT-FM-Austin-public-radio affair. Since then, I've worn that CD out, and the Derailers have played hundreds of gigs at dozens of Houston venues.

They eventually caught the eye of California roots-rock icon Dave Alvin, who produced Jackpot in 2001, and shortly after that, Nashvegas big-time country music labels showed up to kick tires and offer deals. Following the departure of longtime front man Tony Villanueva, showman and original member Brian Hofeldt has joined forces with underrated steel guitarist Chris Schlotzhauer to create a formidable guitar alliance, enough so to keep the band constantly busy during the past 15 years. They've never gotten more than ankle-deep in the mainstream, but they've garnered respect over the years by getting on the bus, arriving on time, laying down some of the twangingest, most danceable honky-tonk since Buck Owens discovered the Beatles, and putting the "show" in showtime. Whether you've lived here all your life or you just got in from Toledo, a Derailers show in the funky confines of Blanco's is a Houston entertainment no-brainer.

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William Michael Smith