Gary P. Nunn – Totally Guacamole (1993)

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NICK DERISO: Man, this is something else. Adamantly not Nashville, for one. (Which is still saying a lot.) Adamantly retro. (Not as unique, but still just fine.)

And completely Gary P. Nunn — one of a series of former Jerry Jeff Walker sidemen to step out into their own spotlight.

“Totally Guacamole” works as a microcosm for Nunn’s outlaw image, from shunning the then-Nuevo Country stars — in the funny “Purty Boys” — to his penchant for writing the note-perfect hill country ditty. (That goes back to 1973’s “London Homesick Blues,” a song he penned while with Jerry Jeff that become better known as “Home with the Armadillo.”)

This Nunn record starts off with a one-two-three punch of pleasant conhunto-flavored tunes that sound like everything country music should be. After all, Nunn launched a solo career after serving, at one point, in concurrent stints as bass player in bands led by progressive stars Walker, Willie Nelson and Michael Martin Murphey.

His indie-label attitude (this album was originally issued on the terrificly named Campfire Records out of San Antonio) carries throughout “Totally Guacamole.”

Now, it helps if you have a healthy affection for the Lone Star State. I suspect only a native could sit through “You Can’t Get the Hell Out of Texas” without getting distracted. (Here’s a sample lyric, recalling the old Motown trick of cross-country name dropping: “It started with the Alamo, it ain’t never gonna stop. Not as long as there’s Austin, Houston, Amarillo, Lubbock, Dallas, Fort Worth …”)

San Antone, Corpus Christi and Padre Island provide a backdrop for other songs here. Nunn later had a greatest hits package, issued this summer, called “What I Like About Texas.”

Apparently, everything.

Just when it might seem rote, though, Nunn unfurls “Purty Boys,” a let’s-get-down-to-business question in song: “Everybody knows who wrote ‘Redneck Mother’ — fellow by the name of Ray Wylie Hubbard,” Nunn croons. “Besides, who ever heard of Lake Alan Jackson?”

It’s a hilarious kiss-off and, really, the heart of the album.

“Totally Guacamole” is the kind of country that used to get made with regularity: Music without pretension, proud of its roots, and without studio-exec sheen — a hoedown, minus the focus group.

Purchase: Gary P. Nunn and the Sons of the Bunkhouse Band – Totally Guacamole

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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