Sound Check: Ronnie Dean Tinsley, Doug Mays, Brian Whelan

By Ricky Flake

A new recording from Ronnie Dean Tinsley, one new and a recently discovered old one from Doug Mays and a "solo" release from Brian Whelan make up this week's slate of reviews. Enjoy!

'Renegade,' Ronnie Dean Tinsley & The Dark Horse Rodeo (Independent Release, HHHH)

This March 25 CD release (probably available in other formats) is the first "solo" album from Tinsley, who is also the front man of Houston, TX metal band The Hectic. His vision of outlaw country/Americana is ably assisted by bassist Anthony Sapp, drummer Steve Allison, steel guitarist Brian Thomas (who also adds banjo & dobro) and keyboardist David De La Garza.

The Gram Parsons quote in the CD sleeve probably sums up Tinsley's feelings about music genres: "It's music. Either it's good or it's bad; either you like it or you don't."

The songs I like best are the snarky "Must Be Nice," the mournful "Worn Out Boots," the partying "Somethin' About The River" and "Nashville Tonight," which references his father's musical career.

Broad-minded outlaw country fans will enjoy this one.

'Live On Pascagoula Beach,' Doug Mays with Storm (Krystal Mac/E&A Records, HH)

'The Rock and Roll Album,' Doug Mays (Sony/ATV music publishing, HHH)

These two CDs come from Doug Mays, who once played bass, sang and wrote songs for Storm before heading to Muscle Shoals. Storm had a big regional hit with "Mississippi Funk," written/sung by Mays. The other band members concert time were drummer Ron Strahan, vocalist Donna Wright, guitarist/singer Stevie Krebs and guitarist Kelly Thibault. The tape of the concert has been lost, but it's now found without song titles.

The hit is the best song here, though it goes on too long for yours truly. Donna's solo set-opener is marred by bad sound mix. For Mays fans and/or Storm completists, this is the one.

The new CD features 1970s-flavoed rock 'n' roll, highlighted by the soulful "You Get Me Feeling Better" and "Risky Business."

Fans of that neglected era will enjoy this recording.

'Sugarland,' Brian Whelan (Line In The Sound/South Central Music, HHHH)

This March 25 CD (and probably more) release is Brian Whelan's second solo set. He's known as a multi-instrumentalist working with Dwight Yoakam. He's supported here by drummer/co-producer Mitch Marine and bass/piano/vocalist Lee Pardini, who also plays a variety of other instruments on this disc that seems more light-hearted than the first one in today's column.

That feeling is apparent in "Americana," where banjo and fiddle both take solos. Other highlights include the Stones-country-flavored "Number 1 Fan," the poppy "Talk To Me," and the perfect-world hit "Stand In Your Light."

This is my favorite recording reviewed on my new computer.

Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at flakericky@gmail.com.