Some nights—namely, Friday and Saturday—you just need to let loose. That's when subtlety doesn't play well, when the guitars are amped up and twangy, and the frontguy's delivery suggests that he's been there, done that, and used the T-shirt to mop up the flesh wound. The songs are probably about love gone wrong coupled with recklessness done right. Alcohol may be involved. Think Dash Rip Rock or Phil Lee and the Sly Dogs, who brought top-shelf alt-country to the Triangle before it had that snappy name.
When Carrboro's Jeff "Jeffro" Holshouser sings "I'm in a leaky boat headed up shit creek/ With two busted oars and a bottle of Beam" on "(I Wanna) Drink with You," the centerpiece of the new Poolhalls and Pantyhose EP, his band Hank Sinatra is ready for the rowdy weekend. It's much the same when he and the others (guitarist Tommy Cooper, drummer Freddy Jones and bassist Tom D. Mills) end with the rocky-tonking prison lament "Thick Black Bars," a look at the recklessness coming to an abrupt stop.
That wasn't the original blueprint for Hank Sinatra, though. Holshouser, whose resume includes bands from pseudo-loungers Buddy Valentine & His Evening in Heaven to Big Dixie and Snapperhead, first formed the group to offer big-band arrangements of honky-tonk songs. But paying all those musicians became cost prohibitive for Holshouser, then living in the overhead-heavy Nashville. The band stripped it down and rocked it up. Appropriately, Lee's "A Night in the Box" opens Poolhalls and Pantyhose.
"When I lived in Nashville, Phil sort of took me under his wing, so to speak," says Holhouser. "When I told him I wanted to cover one of his tracks on the record, he said, 'Go ahead. Hell, maybe you'll make some money off one of these damn songs. Somebody ought to!'"
Who knows? Either way, that's not the point: Even if nobody gets rich, it's still plenty of reckless fun for a Friday night.
Hank Sinatra's CD release show for Poolhalls and Pantyhose is Friday, March 23, at Hideaway BBQ. Mic Harrison & the High Score and Hick'ry Hawkins open. Tickets are $10 for a 9 p.m.start.