Hacienda Brothers: 'Arizona Motel'

Paste Magazine.com

ROOTS ROUNDUP - Hacienda Brothers

by Andy Whitman - July 21, 2008


Most of my heroes are dead, too. One of them is named Chris Gaffney, who succumbed to liver cancer in April of this year. In addition to his stellar work with Dave Alvin’s band The Guilty Men, Chris was the co-leader of Hacienda Brothers, his partnership with former Paladins guitarist and songwriter Dave Gonzalez. Unable to decide on whether they were a soul band or a country and western band, the Hacienda’s simply split the difference, and Chris’s smoky, souful baritone could plead like Otis Redding or swoop down to nail the bass notes on a honky tonk weeper just like George Jones. He was a great singer, and nowhere is the breadth of his talent displayed more dramatically than on Arizona Motel, the Hacienda’s swan song:

A lot of days are gone
But I’m still holdin’ on to what they used to be
Back when it was yesterday the future seemed so far away
And there was always time, but now it’s slipped away

That’s from the album’s opening track, a classic honky tonk weeper. A month after wrapping up the recording Chris was diagnosed with cancer. Two months later he was dead. There are thirteen more that are just as moving, just as soulful, just as rocking. It’s hard country, hard soul, and a hard life. It’s a beautiful thing, not to be missed.