North Of Juarez "Souvenir Album", The Barnshakers
Goofin' Records, GRCD 6109

The Barnshakers is much more than just a wild rockabilly band. The guys recognize their roots from a wide field of good and real music - country, western swing, rhythm and blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll and rockabilly. The main thing is the feeling, true musicianship and loyalty to the roots of their music.

The story began when Pete Hakonen, president of Goofin' Records, brought the great late Johnny Carroll to Finland for a gig in 1992 and needed a backing group. The four guys - later to become the Barnshakers - had planned to form an authentic rockabilly band for quite a while, and when Pete asked them to form a backing band, they didn't have to think twice. Vesa Haaja, Jussi Huhtakangas, Mika Liikari and Mike Salminen had known each other for years and had played in quality bands. For the Johnny Carroll show Pete asked if they could also do a set of their own. And so the Barnshakers had born. Since then, The Barnshakers have backed a bunch of great musicians, on stage as well as on record. Among them Marti Brom and Darrel Higham.

An impressive list of 45s, LPs and CDs proceeded this new Barnshakers gem, check out the Barnshakers website for a complete discography. For now, let's give this new platter a spin. In fact, this release is kind of a "mini CD" consisting of eight great tracks that will keep you in the mood for about twenty minutes. It's what the Barnshakers call "a selection of rockin' tunes for barnyard hipsters".

Track one is the first of three selfpenned songs by Vesa Haaja titled "Heartbreak Train". Fabulous authentic rockabilly with great guitar licks by Lester Peabody. You can almost taste the tears in Vesa's voice. Al Terry's classic "Watchdog" is next and it sounds great as ever, a worthy revival of a great song. Tex Atchison's "Mail Man" is a country style tell-tale song with a great combination of newcomer Harri Saanio's piano, Lester's lead guitar and a fabulous upright bass rhythm.

"Operator L-O-V-E" is another authentic slow boppin' rockabilly track, written by Vesa followed by Narvel Felts' "Did You Tell Me" recorded in the original Sun style. "Life Long Bound" (Vesa Haaja) changes the rhythm from rockabilly to country. A sad prison story, early Johnny Cash style. "Juarez" (Ray Edenton & Roy Huskey) has, as the title implies, lots of Mexican influences, Texas style, and the last track "Killer Diller" (Jimmy Breedlove) is a fabulous closer, which takes you back to the rockabilly roots.

The Barnshakers are surely among the best rockabilly bands on the scene today. And this collection of varied authentic music styles, although a bit short, proves it once more.

The Barnshakers are:
Vesa Haaja - Vocals & Rhythm Guitar
Jussi Huhtakangas (aka Lester Peabody) - Lead Guitar
Mika Liikari - Upright Bass
Mike Salminen - Drums
Harri Saanio (aka Boogie Boy Harris) - Piano

Contact information:
Mika Liikari
Seilimäki 18 A 1
02180 Espoo, Finland

Goofin' Records & Music
Hämeentie 46
00500 Helsinki
Phone: +358 9 773 3113

A note from Narvel Felts:
"I'm pleased to know that you've recorded my song "Did You Tell Me", which we wrote in the summer of 1956, then recorded for SUN on January 23rd, 1957. I look forward to hearing your version. I know you've done a marvellous job on it. Good luck with your CD "North Of Juarez" and your American tour. I look foward to working with you again".

Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2001
Additional information by The Barnshakers