Buck Owens

"Live" at the White House

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While Bakersfield, California was his home and base of operations, Buck Owens was born in Texas, and it was a fellow Texan who asked him to play one of his most prestigious gigs when Lyndon Baines Johnson invited Owens and his band to perform at the White House in the summer of 1968. Owens brought along a portable recording rig for the occasion, and "Live" At the White House is a scrappy, warts-and-all document of Buck's special show for LBJ, recorded straight to two-track, though truth to tell there aren't that many warts. Owens and his band the Buckaroos were one of the strongest live acts in country music in their heyday, and though Owens and company occasionally sound a bit nervous playing for the President (particularly bassist Doyle Holly, who briefly fumbles his vocal feature on "Streets of Laredo"), for the most part the musicians are tight and approach the material with plenty of fire, especially Don Rich, who delivers excellent guitar work and a roaring fiddle solo on "Orange Blossom Special." And if Owens leans a bit too hard on his comic relief during his brief set, you can tell he's thrilled to be playing for the President and the excitement is palpable. "Live" At the White House doesn't hold a candle to 1966's The Carnegie Hall Concert, but as a document of one special night in the life of Buck Owens, it's good fun and demonstrates just how strong Owens and his band were in their prime.

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