The Dukes of Dixieland and the Oak Ridge Boys, When Country Meets Dixie (Independent)

The Dukes of Dixieland and the Oak Ridge Boys, When Country Meets Dixie

If it sounds, both to ear and brain, like a no-brainer—country two-beat infused into Dixieland spontaneous jubilation—well friends and neighbors, it’s a sandwich served fresh and worth salivating over. The Dukes do their thing, the Oak Ridge Boys do their thing on top of that. Several carefully selected guest singers drop in to take the lead while the Boys take an inspirational background- vocal back seat, and the whole thing’s fit for a swingin’ party with shined-up floors where ten-gallons swap lines with fedoras.

Nobody droops at a dance, so the Dixielanders don’t drop their determination. Ben Smith’s big-lunged trombone, and Ryan Burrage’s clarinet, especially, sound a clarion call, even on “Closer Walk with Thee.” Country producer James Stroud keeps things bell-clear, and maybe it’s all the 78s I’ve gone through recently, but I wished for a bit more grit in the mix.

Thumbs-up to the younger, lesser-known singers, bright and in some cases, slightly nervous, like it’s their turn at the small-town, big-prize talent show. Lathan Moore sounds much older than what I’m assuming from photos is his twentysomething years, but more than anything he sounds relieved, asking “Are You from Dixie?” while hoping for a fellow traveler a long way from home. Bobby John Henry, eager to be “Back in New Orleans,” breathes relief and longing in the same exhalation.

And yes, oddly enough for a party, hints of regret and missed opportunities creep in. Richard Scott Obenschain’s “That’s What I Like About the South” withholds all critiques of Dixie, but throws in a broken heart near the finale. The Boys’ recasting of “Bobby Sue” complete with Richard Sterban’s rubber-bubbling bass at the bottom, embraces teen marriage, ignoring the painful repenting-at-leisure such unions often produce.

Callaway McCord, it’s true, belts forth a strident, brassy and confident medley of “Jambalaya/I’m Walkin’/ Toot Toot,” reminding the listener that Dixie/Country is not confluence but a step back upriver to where those waters meet originally. Want cheer? Keep to the snappy beat and the testifying gospel. Save those lyrics for later.

  • Andrew,
    Thanks for a nice review and great “turns of phrase”.  The album was a blast to make and is fun to listen to. 

  • Let There Be NO

    It is a fact that Frank and Freddie Assunto
    created and led the #1 Jazz Band in America from the early 1950’s thru early
    1974 known as The Dukes of Dixieland. They played with and recorded with all the
    greats of their time and also appeared on numerous TV Shows from the 50’s
    through the 1960’s. Their untimely deaths, Freddie in 1966 (36) and Frank in
    1974 (42) ended the reign of the Dukes of Dixieland. But instead of their legacy
    being left to be properly respected others stepped in to profit and mislead the
    public into believing they represented the Assunto Family and the legacy of the
    Original Dukes of Dixieland. (This is part of the public record, New Orleans
    Civil District Court, Division “E”, Case # 2000-9440)

    So now the fact
    is very straight forward, after Frank’s death in 1974 no one using the Assunto
    legacy or the name Dukes of Dixieland has ever had any connection to the Assunto
    Brothers or their original Dukes of Dixieland. (Even though in the past it had
    been advertised otherwise.)

    As such the Assunto Family regrets that
    anyone has been misled in any way as we have no control over the unscrupulous
    actions of others. We can only hope that after the conclusion of our legal
    actions which ended in October 2011 there should be no further confusion or
    misrepresentation of the Assunto Brothers or their Dukes of Dixieland. (If by
    chance after October , 2011 you feel you’ve been misled in anyway please feel
    free to contact the Assunto Family so that we can take action to correct the
    situation, we’ll even pay for evidence that proves such a claim.)

    Bless and Thank You for being a fan of the Original Dukes of Dixieland and the
    Assunto Family.