"On the Red Line"
The Rhodes Tavern Troubadours sound more like a road-tested bar band than the name suggests, which isn't surprising given the quartet's well-traveled lineup and roots 'n' roll repertoire.
Anyone familiar with the work of bassist Mark Noone (Slickee Boys, Ruthie and the Wranglers), drummer Jack O'Dell (Bill Kirchen and Too Much Fun) and guitarists Dave Chappell (Billy Hancock, Danny Gatton) and Jake Flack (Neptunes, the Thangs) should have a pretty good idea of what these boys are up to, but here's a clue for everyone else: If NRBQ had been hatched inside the Beltway, they might have produced an album that sounds just like "On the Red Line."
Local color, after all, is one of the best things about the Troubadours' debut CD. The album opens with "Red Line Train," a terrific slice of D.C. life torn from the personals. And there's a lot more where that came from: "Earl Weaver" is a lighthearted salute to the dirt-kicking Oriole legend; "D.C's the Telecaster Town" pays tribute to Washington's distinctly twangy breed of guitar slingers; and "Route 11 Chips" briefly plugs a homegrown snack.
Still, geography doesn't necessarily dictate the moods. They range from Chuck Berry-flavored rock to spaghetti western atmospherics, and the luxury of having three lead singers (Flack, Noone and O'Dell) and four tunesmiths helps keep things interesting. Then again, the Troubadours sometimes rely on little more than the sound of Chappell's resonating Tele to leave a big impression.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Saturday at IOTA. * To hear a free Sound Bite from the Rhodes Tavern Troubadours, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8130. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)