Lyons’ own Joe Kuckla has finally produced his eponymous debut recording with his band Irons In The Fire, consisting of David Richey on electric guitar and vocals; Colin Mahoney, drums and percussion; Amy Harron, vocals; and Scott “Wallard” Johnson on bass. Special guests include Jake Simpson on fiddle, Charlie Rose on pedal steel and banjo, Eric Moon on keyboards and accordion, Ian Brighton on sax, John Gray on trumpet, Shauna Lee on backing vocals, and Joel Plimmer, also on keyboards.
The record, featuring wonderful original songs and some well-chosen covers, has been a long time coming. It sure makes me smile to hear Joe in total control while giving us some terrific tunes to groove and dance to. Joe is a great band leader, vocalist, and songwriter. Audiences really get behind his foot-stomping songs and always enjoy his performances.
Joe picked some great covers for this record, like Richard Thompson’s “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” which he sings the heck out of; “Trucker and the UFO,” written by Ken Munds and recorded by Brush Arbor in 1973, a fun tune I had never heard before; “Slow Moving Freight Train,” a very cool, smooth tune by Hugh Moffatt; and “Gallo Del Cielo” written by Tom Russell, an intriguing story of a cock fight.
Joe’s original songs leap from the recording, and tell us a lot about Joe and his musical quest over the years. The CD’s first five original songs start with “Coulda Been,” where Joe addresses his fight to stay sober and handle life’s trials. “Colorado” features Jake Simpson’s fiddle throughout, and sweet background vocals from Harron. Joe sings about what Colorado means to him and his future.
Next is “River,” a beautiful love song with a terrific chorus that will stick in your head. “Whole Lotta Cowboy” is typical Joe, exalting life wild and free with some nice horns reminiscent of The Band. “Rib Bone” lets Joe rear back and sing one with gusto. Rose’s pedal steel shines here, as does Simpson’s fiddle and great backup singing. “Hondo” is a rite-of-passage tale, while “Send My Way” is a mostly acoustic song about a man who kills a woman’s abusive husband and then suffers exile for his deed. Great vocals stand out on this heartbreaker. “Blue and Gold” is a song about Joe’s growing up and his good feelings of adolescence back east and hometown loyalty. Joe and the band leave us with “Big Red Sun,” a sad story of the loss of an old friend and coping with that loss.
This is a sonic joy ride of music, with great vocals, stories, and performances. Joe and the band will be at The Lyons Den Saturday, February 22. I highly recommend you attend. They will thoroughly entertain you, and you might even find yourself dancing.