Liam Fitzgerald & The Rainieros have passed the only kind of test there is for true country music: the dancers. Liam cut his teeth playing the hardcore country taverns in Seattle that you never hear about in the tourist brochures, and the dancers there don’t mess around. You’d better have a rock-hard beat, an ace pedal steel player, songs as honest as they are direct, and a voice with just the right amount of twang. You can fake your way through country music to the rest of the world, but when you play for dancers, they’ll see right through any kind of trickery.
Liam Fitzgerald grew up around country music in his hometown of Klamath Falls, a small town nestled into some of the rougher natural territory of Eastern Oregon. He comes from a large family of cattlemen, shepherds, and rodeo stars that dates back generations to the Wild West, but despite this upbringing, Liam didn’t start playing country music until he’d moved to Seattle. Hooking up with a like-minded group of players, he started writing country songs, obsessing over old vinyl country records, and opening for all the hot country bands coming through town. Liam’s talent as a roots country songwriter was immediately apparent, and he moved to the upper echelon of Seattle country dance halls, playing sets at the Little Red Hen, The Shanty, and Darrell’s, all dive-bar, insider venues where the last remnants of Seattle’s working-class past still remain. Don Slack at KEXP was an early adopter of Liam’s music as well, featuring him frequently on his tastemaking show “Shake the Shack.” Those who know true country music in Seattle knew Liam very well.
With the second album from Liam Fitzgerald & The Rainieros, titled Last Call, this crackin’ Seattle crew of country pickers is poised to move into a much larger spotlight. With just 10 songs, Liam chronicles the bad break-ups, late night bar tabs, hard-luck ramblers, and drunken jokers that typify the Golden Age of country music. The band is hopping, with Russ Blake and his remarkably agile pedal steel solos, Tyler Johnson on hard-rock country bass, Johnn Mercury on the shimmery, reverb’d out electric guitar so key to the old country sound, and Donnie Staff laying down the kind of dancefloor country beats on the drums that made The Rainieros’ name. Plus Liam invited in the best fiddlers in Seattle’s old-time scene (Joe Fulton of the Tallboys and Greg Canote of the Canote Brothers) to lay down some Western swing fiddling. Last Call positively crackles with a vintage, analog sound, and Liam takes this aspect of the album very seriously. He sent the album to mastering twice, striving to get the kind of analog sound quality that he loved so much from his extensive collection of country music vinyl albums from the 1950s and 60s. One listen to the opening track, “What Would You Do,” and you’ll hear he succeeded!
As soon as you hear Liam Fitzgerald & The Rainieros, you know they’re different. There’s no “alt” here, no “indie” attached to their country music, this is the real deal, straight no chaser... old-school roots country songwriting born from a remarkable talent.
Liam Fitzgerald & The Rainieros: What Would You Do?
Liam Fitzgerald & The Rainieros: I'm Always Gonna Be in Love With You