Freddie Krc and The Shakin' Apostles – Medicine Show (1997)

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NICK DERISO: The title cut of “Medicine Show” is a room-clearing-brawl type of song: It forces you to pay close attention from there on out.

Freddie “Steady” Krc and the Shakin’ Apostles reaffirm, and right from the start, their neat amalgamation of mop-top whimsy and Hill Country picking. They make room for this weird modernity, too, allowing at times for a foreboding ethos in the style of the Band.

That lends a magical mystery to “Medicine Show” – this terrific find that’s centered, oddly enough, by the group’s initial try at a cover song. The Shakin’ Apostles completely inhabit Moby Grape’s “Fall on You,” one of those sweet pop confections with a darkly cynical lyric.

The Jack Kerouac-inspired “Crazy Flowers” then signals a rattling ride of creativity that doesn’t stop until we get to this otherworldly rag that closes the album. This Austin-based band boasts more jangle (as they say) than a Woolworth’s cash register, but no patience for leaving it at that.

“I dare not use the word ‘sophisticated,'” Krc (that’s him at right) is telling me. “But it’s more melodic – and certainly not slick.”

If, when the album is done, you’ve finally come to the conclusion that the Shakin’ Apostles could be favorably compared to the Byrds – in all of their many incarnations – well, that’s fine with Freddie, too.

“They are a textbook example of the classic American group,” Krc says. “One thing that was stable throughout was really quality songs. There’s not a stinker in there – whether you listen to their pop, psychedelic or country songs.”

And the Moby Grape thing? “Well, actually I’ve been so adamant about not doing cover stuff,” Freddie says, “but we finally got some covers that we really enjoyed doing. ‘Fall on You’ is not such a huge departure from what we do normally, either.”

That helped forge a new partnership, too, and yet another new direction. Krc got close with Peter Lewis, the guy who wrote “Fall on You,” and the first thing they started talking about doing was a cover of an old Buddy Holly track, called “Wishing.”

“It was a song that he wrote in hopes that the Everly Brothers would cut it, as a duet,” Krc says. “You know, the Beatles played it early on.”

Buddy Holly? The Everlys? The Beatles? What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on around here?

It’s true that Krc made his name as part of a cadre of country outlaws that includes ex-boss Jerry Jeff Walker, Gary P. Nunn, Guy Clark and others. But Krc will gently remind you that his Texas Music Hall of Fame resume also includes an early 1980s power-pop band, the Explosives.

It’s probably for the best. The problem with county music these days is on both ends.

The establishment has capitulated to pop and the newest young thing. Then, on the other hand, too much of the rest of it got to be too cute by half – all wink-wink, nudge-nudge and no heart.

Freddie “Steady” Krc and the Shakin’ Apostles thread the needle, showing off just the right reverence for country-rock and boomer-pop ghost bands while staying true to their own frisky individuality.

Purchase: Freddie Krc and The Shakin’ Apostles – Medicine Show

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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