Jamie Oldaker

Mad Dogs & Okies

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Veteran session drummer Jamie Oldaker was born and raised in Tulsa, OK, and has a pronounced soft spot for the country, blues, and roots rock sounds of his home state. With that in mind, Oldaker assembled the album Mad Dogs & Okies as a tribute to Oklahoma's musical heritage (with an accompanying movie in the works), and thankfully he had the good sense to bring in some of his good friends and jamming buddies from over 30 years in the music business to help take the leads rather than doing it himself. Mad Dogs & Okies would be a cause for celebration if only for the fact it features an actual new song written and performed by the brilliant but reclusive Texas singer and songwriter Willis Alan Ramsey, and "Sympathy for a Train" is a slice of late-night blues that sounds like it could have been an outtake from Ramsey's superb 1972 album. But that's not all this album has going for it -- Taj Mahal shines on his two cuts (including a rollicking version of "Stagger Lee"), Vince Gill and Eric Clapton are in laid-back but emphatic form on numbers that outclass their most recent albums, J.J. Cale and Tony Joe White serve their legends well, and Ray Benson and Bonnie Bramlett sound like they're having a whole lot of fun on their selections. Mad Dogs & Okies sounds like an album that was made for the enjoyment of the musicians involved more than anything else (and Oldaker is essentially just a sideman on his own record), but the fun is infectious, and the cast lets loose with some fine sounds along the way -- it's a good guess that these sessions were a pretty great party, and Oldaker's musical snapshots of the proceedings are the next best thing to being there.

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