Honky-tonk outsider Wayne "The Train" Hancock hits town

The Texas twanger brings the juke joint to Soda Bar Friday night

Wayne "The Train" Hancock
  • Wayne "The Train" Hancock

"Thunderstorms and Neon Signs"

...by Wayne "the Train" Hancock

...by Wayne "the Train" Hancock

Wayne Hancock. His nickname is “the Train,” and his act is what remains of honky-tonk, a scarce form of entertainment these days. In truth, honky-tonk defines a type of venue and an era more than it does the rough-and-tumble music that appealed to the manner of people who frequented such places. Honky-tonks and juke joints are low-end beer bars designed for the working poor, and there really aren’t many honky-tonks left in America, except in some of the forgotten pockets of humanity among the Southern states. In other words, the 50-year-old singer/guitarist from Denton, Texas, is a musical dinosaur.

These days the Train, being very in touch with his inner Hank Williams, mixes it up with everything from Western swing to rockabilly for the hipsters who are not necessarily fans of old country but who come out to the nightclubs where Hancock has grown a modest but dedicated following over the years, drawn by the antique bump and grind of his music.

Past Event

Wayne Hancock and Ypsitucky

  • Friday, December 18, 2015, 8 p.m.
  • Soda Bar, 3615 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $15

In his own way, Hancock resembles a country judge dressed as if out for a spin on his motorbike; his songs are about larceny and cheating and murder, the kinds of stories a real judge might hear on a daily basis. Hank III has covered some of Hancock’s music, but as far as Nashville and Big Country in general, I’m not sure if Hancock avoids them or if they avoid him. He and his traveling band (guitarist Greg Hawkins, Rose Sinclair on pedal steel, Bart Weiburg on guitars, and slap bassist Jimmy Duvall) don’t make radio-ready music. Career-wise, Hancock’s been all over the board, from the big-horn swing of the ominously titled That’s What Daddy Wants to the unadorned music his band makes at present. The small-club circuit is a hard life — I don’t think the Train’s ever been invited to the larger stage, but then again, I’m not sure he cares one way or the other.

Ypsitucky and Fanny and the Atta Boys also perform.

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