Travellers Records (label)
01 August 2021 (released)
09 August 2021
It is a long-established fact that Alberta is the Texas of Canada. Endless plains of cattle and horses with rodeos as major cultural events. Massive petroleum reserves with oil companies driving the economies of the major cities. Pickup trucks as far as the eye can see. Naturally, country music thrives there but just like Texas, there's a strong influence of blues shuffle and rock to make a kind of “country-fried rock n roll”. Bands like Texas' ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble as well as other southern rock heroes like Lynard Skynard and the Allman Brothers have always had a big following in the Wild Rose Country of Alberta. Perfect tunes for a night partying on the Red Mile or for losing 10 days to the Stampede.
Nikki Wozzo now hangs his hat in Los Angeles, California but the guitar slinger and vocalist was born and raised in Cowtown-Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Through his travels to British Columbia's interior to hone his skills, the UK to play in a metal band, and finally down to Hollywood to set up shop, Wozzo has taken the prairie shuffle with him. His new project Nikki Wozzo & the Bad Whiskey brings bassist Ray Miller from Quebec officially into the fold with Mike Mallais and Blair Shotts sharing drumming duties on the album. The record entitled The Bad Whiskey contains raucous shit-kickers and nostalgic swings to soundtrack the tailgate party down at the lake.
The opener is a loving tribute to Wozzo's home province and a sort of origin story for the rocker. 'Wild Rose' is that blues bar rock combo of hard stomp drums, hammer-on pull-off guitar pickin' and wild bellowing about the hum of happy hour. A combo that served Canada's darlings The Tragically Hip very well during their late 80s, early 90s rise. Wozzo name-checks his hometown and its signature festival, raving about rolling into Calgary for a good time. This autobiographical trip sets up the rest of the record.
The eponymous 'Bad Whiskey' slips between barroom shuffle and halftime breakdown. Wozzo unloads into the filtered harmonica mic for that railroad announcer sound favoured by heavy blues rockers like Big Sugar. 'Lover's Song' leans into the country-western vibes with a classic bass saunter scoring Wozzo's song of longing for his woman back on the plains while he's out in L.A. 'Old Man' waxes poetic about the ups and downs of Wozzo's relationship with his father from fun times at the bar and coming to see his band play to the years when they weren't so close. Father-son relationships go through many stages and Wozzo is here reflecting on how they all shaped the man he became. A heartfelt tribute to pops. 'Rowdy' and 'All Night Long' take the home stretch with a couple of ZZ Top-inspired rockers celebrating those crazy party nights.
Bad Whiskey is a straight-ahead collection of a particular kind of heartland rock. Let's call it Stampede Rock. Shufflin' rock n roll made for prairie bars and open roads. Nikki Wozzo & the Bad Whiskey are no-nonsense, no pretense, premium grade Alberta rock.