Wayne "The Train" Hancock

Neo-honky-tonker Wayne Hancock's nickname is "The Train," and though it may appear convenient to give the native Texan the moniker simply because of the Dr. ­Seuss-style rhyme one can play with his first name, Hancock has earned an allegiance with perhaps country music's greatest symbol of both heartbreak and freedom (cited in country tunes such as including Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," Gram Parsons' "Luxury Liner," and newbie-traditionalist Josh Turner's "Long Black Train," to name but a few). Over five studio discs and one live set since 1995, no other contemporary country artist has mined country tradition quite like Hancock, who, like his idols Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers (who worked on railroads in his youth and whose nickname was "The Singing Brakeman") eschews drums in favor of a stripped-down live band featuring acoustic and electric guitar, standup bass, and pedal steel. But just because there is no Neil Peart onstage to keep the beat and deliver a self-flagellating drum solo, don't think Hancock and his band can't get a crowd two-stepping with his potent brew of jump blues and hillbilly swing. The Train's stops at The Rhythm Room over the years have passed into legend at the club, where nostalgic senior citizens (who long for the high, lonesome sounds of Williams and Rodgers) and tattooed retro-rockabillies can rub elbows and hoist beers in unison. So, yeah, "train" rhymes with Wayne, but you can bet nobody calls Vegas crooner Wayne Newton "The Train."

 
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