The Hacienda Brothers are led by Chris Gaffney and Dave Gonzalez. Each a bandleader and songwriter, the two originally joined forces to explore their shared love of classic country and early soul. They have since integrated roots-rock, blues and a southwestern flavor to the mix to create a style completely fresh and one truly their own. That's the sound you will hear on their Proper Records debut. It's also exactly what Chris Gaffney loves about the band "we can absolutely turn on a dime, and play what ever we want, and that's how we made the record."
Chris Gaffney, playing accordion, acoustic guitar and carrying most the singing duties for the Hacienda Brothers, has for the past 25 years fronted his own band, the Cold Hard Facts. He can also be found touring with Dave Alvin as one of his Guilty Men. His songwriting talents are on par with those of his band mate Dave Alvin and other contemporaries, but it is Gaffney's natural singing ability that sets him apart, having learned from some of the greatest by backing country singers such as Webb Pearce, Hank Snow and Ferlin Husky.
Dave Gonzalez is the consummate musician's musician. As the primary singer and songwriter for the Paladins, he is also a master technician on the guitar. His virtuosity shows as much in his restraint as in his playing, with notes that don't clutter, but are delivered just when you need them. With equal part Buddy Guy, BB King and Waylon Jennings, Gonzalez has earned his reputation on guitar, but what burns inside is his desire to constantly write new songs.
So when it came time for the Hacienda Brothers to record their debut record, the band's dream producer was Dan Penn. A few years ago Gonzalez had met Penn at a festival in Europe. Later when discussing the Hacienda project with partner Chris Gaffney, they raved at the chance of obtaining Penn to man the wheel. It was Dan Penn's songwriting and production work during the glory days at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and American Studios in Memphis that excited the duo.
What they didn't know was how close all three would become during the sessions. "It was like working with a long lost friend" say Gaffney. "Plus he treats Trixie jus like I treat Lulabelle," referring to the love of their pet dogs. Dave Gonzalez and Penn also have a special bond; "we're both just as happy talking about tuning a car as tuning a guitar." In fact one day during the session the two stopped everything to go outside and tear apart a carburetor in an old Galaxy that was giving Dave some trouble."
Dan Penn had not only accepted their invitation to produce, but also arrived in Tucson with a song he had written specifically for Gaffney called The Years That Got Away. "I was completely flattered that he had written this beautiful song for me. Think of all the greats like Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin that have sung his tunes, and now I was getting one. Privileged is the word" says Gaffney.
During the recording session Dave Gonzalez also had a chance to sequester Dan Penn for an impromptu songwriting session out in the Sonoran Desert, among the majestic saguaros. Together they wrote the soul gem Looking For Loneliness. The song, which Penn describes as a soul tune with a country bridge, is also highlighted by the touch of "Mr. Memphis Horns" Wayne Jackson.
On the Hacienda Brothers debut, Dave Gonzalez had a chance to pay tribute to a couple of his country heroes through his songwriting. Walkin' On My Dreams was written as if it could have been the b-side of the great Ray Price's hit Nightlife. While Leavin' On My Mind was written as if Dave was given a chance to submit a tune for the mid sixties recording sessions of Waylon Jennings.
What has also transpired is the creative songwriting tandem of Gonzalez and Gaffney. Infact the first song ever written for the project, I'm So Proud, is what initially attracted Penn to pair. It was the demo version of this song sent to Penn that immediately 'souled' him on the project. As Penn put it "those boys can sure write a hit song."
"Songwriting inspiration comes from everywhere," says Gonzalez. Chris had mentioned to Dave many times about a songwriting idea he had that started with the phrase, "Don't make the call" but while driving to the recording session, Dave asked Chris the simple question what would Willie do? Their answer was to instead write a song about the matchbook and the number she had written on it. Thus became their new classic Seven Little Numbers.
For the recording session Gaffney also pulled out a song he had wanted to sing since high school; "I was a big fan of Fred Neil, I just loved his voice, so this was my chance to record one of my favorites of his titled I've Got A Secret." Gaffney has now made this his song.
Rounding out the CD is the haunting instrumental titled Saguaro. Here the band pours out all their love for the southwest, specifically around their sentimental home of Tucson in the Sonoran desert. Just like a movie soundtrack, the CD fades off into the distance of what could be the surprise blockbuster of the year.