CD Reviews for 03/15/07 – Jon Rauhouse (Steel Guitar Heart Attack)

Compact Capsules for 03/15/07
by Dan Ferguson

Jon Rauhouse
Steel Guitar Heart Attack
Bloodshot Records BS-133

Go back to the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s and solo albums from steel guitarists were released with some regularity. Speedy West, Lloyd Green, Jerry Byrd, to name a few, in addition to their sideman duties managed to squeeze a record of their own every few years. Heck, it even went as far as the short-lived, circa-1970s Steel Guitar Record Club label which resurrected long-discontinued steel albums from greats such as Byrd, Tom Brumley, Herb Remington, Green, Buddy Emmons, Buddy Charleton, Sonny Garrish, Hal Rugg, Red Rhodes, and West. Few and far between since that time, one cat, however, has carried the torch, so to speak, over the last half dozen years on the steel front. Along with his talented guitar-slinging cohort Tommy Connell, Tucson-based Jon Rauhouse serves up a humdinger of a steel guitar album with Steel Guitar Heart Attack. Moving between pedal steel, lap steel, Hawaiian guitar, banjo and rhythm guitar, Rauhouse coined the title for this record as a bit of a play on his own past heart issues – the liner notes give thanks to a number of physicians who have been instrumental, no pun intended, in keeping Mr. Rauhouse’s thumper pumping properly. With a guest list that includes singers Neko Case, Sally Timms (Mekons), Kelly Hogan, and Rachel Flotard (Visqueens) and a cast of thousands on the musician side of the ledger, Steel Guitar Heart Attack runs the gamut from honky tonk to sepia-toned Western swing to Hawaiian to swanky jazz with the Rauhouse/Connell duo leading the charge. One of the great things about many of the steel guitar albums of yesteryear, most all entirely instrumental affairs, is that they always seemed to offer a surprise or two. Rauhouse has that covered in spades on Steel Guitar Heart Attack providing such hoots as the theme from the classic TV show Mannix, a woozy original called “Girls of Pajama Hill”, and album closer “Fishin’ Hole” which should have the Andy Griffith Mayberry faithful going ga-ga. It all adds up to one rootin’ tootin’ good time. (Bloodshot Records, 3039 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60618, or

(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at [email protected].)