Other than the drums, which I once played in middle school but pretty much quit in high school when I realized I’d have to wear some silly polyester uniform with a tall feathered hat at halftime of football games, the pedal steel guitar is my favorite instrument. There’s a certain emotion to it, an instrument that really seems to have a voice of its own.
Nobody plays it better than Jon Rauhouse, a man we’re proud to call an Arizonan. Besides being a member of Neko Case’s band, Rauhouse’s extensive credits include playing with Calexico (whose John Convertino and Joey Burns are part of his band), Giant Sand, Waco Brothers, John Langford, Kelly Hogan and Sally Timms. He’s also a member of Bloodshot Records’ Grievous Angels.
One of my favorite projects Rauhouse was involved with was Sleepwalker, a three-piece (with Jamal Ruhe and Darren Henley) from Tempe that put out a somewhat hastily recorded yet beautiful one album called The Man in the Moon. (Previous post.)
After extensive touring with Neko Case, Rauhouse returns with his third solo album, Steel Guitar Heart Attack, due for release March 13 on Bloodshot. Appearances from Neko, Timms and Hogan prove the reciprocal nature of musicians and their fondness of Rauhouse’s craft.
If it has a string, Rauhouse – affectionately known as “Uncle Jimmy” for reasons I don’t know – probably has played it: banjo, pedal steel, Hawaiian guitar, ukelele, you name it. He’s talented as a technical player but never loses focus of the mood and substance his style carries. On 2004’s Steel Guitar Rodeo, Rauhouse reinterpreted the Perry Mason theme song into something much more romantic and intriguing than a cheese-ball TV theme. Apparently, he does it again on Heart Attack, taking on the Andy Griffith theme on The Fishing Hole.
Ballad of the Black Chihuahua, the first single off Heart Attack, is layered in lush guitar work and boasts a Southwest flavor that captures the essence of this arid atmosphere.
I don’t see a pre-order link yet at Bloodshot for the record. But Rauhouse’s catalog is available at eMusic.
Jon Rauhouse | Ballad of the Black Chihuahua