Johnny Bush

Kashmere Gardens Mud: A Tribute to Houston's Country Soul

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Although he's fairly well known in country music, it's Texas that's the heart and soul of Johnny Bush's sound, and here he pays tribute to his hometown of Houston, starting with the area where he grew up, Kashmere Gardens, on the opening title cut. Released in conjunction with his autobiography, Kashmere Gardens Mud covers the spectrum of Texas music, from shuffle to Western swing and beyond. It's definitely a mixed bag, with several guests, like old pal Willie Nelson, Floyd Tillman, and Dale Watson, and a crack band including Johnny Gimble and Buddy Emmons. There's no doubt that Bush, his voice much deeper with age, is happier with the uptempo material, and he should have stayed away from "Pancho and Lefty," to which he brings no real feeling. However, what he does cover is a set of Texas classics by artists like Moon Mullican, Nelson, and Hank Locklin, although he steers clear of his own biggest hit, curiously. What he's created, really, is a little curiosity. It's country, beyond a shadow of a doubt, but well away from any kind of mainstream, a disc made more as a labor of love than anything, a throwback (and there's nothing wrong with that) that can be lovely at times (as on "Bloody Mary Morning"). You do have to wonder, though, about the mishmash that's "Kashmere Gardens Reprise," and seems tacked on to fill out time.

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