“I feel like modern country—it’s just a f*cking mess. No doubt,” says Wyatt Hesemeyer, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Miss Lonely Hearts. “A lot of people that are trying to play … ’50s country do it by making it as over the top as they can,” he adds, “they’re yodeling and wearing oversized cowboy hats, they try to make it cute, but it wasn’t supposed to be cute. It was supposed to heartfelt or interesting or funny.” Hesemeyer, whose warm, raw vocals intoxicate the listener like a glass of Bulleit Rye Whiskey—his favorite brand—has a characteristic bluntness that imbues his music with honesty instead of camp. Backed by a full band—Patrick O’Connor (drums), Keith Cary (lap steel), Mischa Gasch (upright bass), and Parker McDonald (lead guitar)—Miss Lonely Hearts cranks out pure country with a splash of shufflin’ 1950s rock and roll. And according to Hesemeyer, their unadulterated sound has a big draw.
“There aren’t that many people doing straight-up old country” he says, “so when people hear it they’re excited.” The band’s first release was full of much darker music overall, but Hesemeyer says that their latest effort, Crying Bottle Blues, takes a more upbeat approach. “I think we went from singing dark songs that were portrayed in a dark manner, to singing dark songs portrayed in a happy manner,” he explains. “It’s still about, you know, stabbing your lover in the heart, or drinking yourself to death, and all that good ol’ stuff that all the old songs are based around.” To him, the band made the transition with a clear motive in mind: “I think it’s largely based on the crowds … if we can do anything we can put on a ripping live performance with the ultimate goal of dancing. The whole record is built around the ultimate goal of getting people to f*cking move and have a good time.” | SCOTT MORLEY
INFO: 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.