Good old Hank! An evening with this one-time rock ‘n’ roll doctor turned country music guru, guarantees a chance to wallow in the very best sort of misery - someone else’s.
With a twinkle in his eye and twang in his guitar, the inimitable Wangford trawls the country catalogues for songs of drunkenness, desertion, divorce and desperation and when he wants one that’s really distressing, he writes his own.
They are delivered by a band made up of the very best musicians. The Lost Cowboys include such top-flight session men as pedal steel star BJ Cole, one time Graham Parker and The Rumour guitarist Martin Belmont, Doll by Doll bassman Kevin Foster and Fairground Attraction/Eddie Reader drummer Roy Dodds. Incidentally Belmont also regularly gets a call from BBC Radio 4 to ghost guitar for The Archers’ Eddie Grundy. Those in the know say he is almost as proud of his Ambridge credentials as he is of counting Johnny Cash, Nick Lowe and a dozen other big names from Nashville to North London on his cv.
Though their esteemed frontman may not be quite as good a musician as his bandmates, The Lost Cowboys know they are in rare company. For Wangford writes great songs and possesses the kind of charisma that would work wonders even if he wasn’t wearing a kilt, knee-socks and cowboy boots. Chatting with the good doctor during a break in his set, he told me he wearing the McKinley tartan - his mother’s colours.
The rest of the get-up was about as eccentric as is humanly possible, a chaos of clashing patterns and colours topped off with a wildly weird titfer.
Despite the humour, Wangford is passionate about country music, delivering facts, information and deliciously bizarre asides with near evangelical zeal. The result is an evening that entertains and, while you’re having a good time, educates too. Great stuff, just a pity there weren’t more people in the audience.