Chuck Mead, Back At the Quonset Hut
Bringing new life to old tunes in a long-shuttered room
Quonset huts were omnipresent during World War II; the long, curved structures (like a grain silo sliced lengthwise and laid flat) served as barracks and offices for U.S. troops. After the war, around 150,000 were sold; one of them became one of Music Row’s primary studios, housing sessions by legends such as Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and countless others. The long-shuttered room recently reopened, and former BR-549 frontman Chuck Mead thought there might be magic in bringing a few storied A-Team pickers (including Harold Bradley, Bob Moore, Pig Robbins and Buddy Spicher) back there to record a bunch of songs from the Quonset’s heyday. He was right, as this set attests: New life is brought to tunes ranging from Hank Williams’s jaunty “Settin’ The Woods On Fire” to Tammy Wynette’s aching ballad “Apartment #9″ to Gene Vincent’s rockabilly archetype “Be Bop A Lula.” Mead recruited a few guest stars as well, from generations older (Bobby Bare on Carl Smith’s playful “Hey Joe”) and younger (Old Crow Medicine Show on the Carter Family staple “Wabash Cannonball”). Best of all is the high-octane duet between Mead and Elizabeth Cook on “Pickin’ Wild Mountain Berries,” which may just outshine the Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn version.