Frank Maloney & the Dolt City Ramblers; April 22, 2011; Goose Island Brewery, Wrigleyville, Chicago
My first cousin once-removed Frank Maloney has been writing songs for as long as I’ve thought of him as anything other than a little kid, but with his honky-tonk outfit the Dolt City Ramblers he seems to have finally found his voice. None of his other bands have seemed as natural a fit as this one does. He’s aided by his long-time accomplices Steve McNamee on drums and remarkably talented Pat McCarthy on guitar. McCarthy in particular seems to be having more fun than ever, probably because he finally gets to wear a Western shirt and play lap steel. I think he was also wearing cowboy boots, which would explain the fancy dancing he was doing. Both were also members of Frank’s previous band Roses & Sake along with Frank’s older brother Johnny. While Roses & Sake were occasionally a little rough, it was impossible not to enjoy them onstage (how could you not when they were having so much fun?). The Dolt City Ramblers are downright slick in comparison.
Before I even met DCR bass player Don Angelo, I saw his picture emblazoned on an R & S shirt. He was drinking gin (I’m told) out of a turkey baster, and the caption read “I’m a fan of the band.” He’d learned to play bass just to be in this band, and while he looked a little apprehensive, his playing was certainly adequate. When they weren’t playing one of Frank’s original songs they were covering classic country like George Jones and Buck Owens. However, the most memorable song of the night was one Frank had written for his mother, called, quite logically, “Mama’s Song.” A list of all the first times his mama had busted him, for drinking, smoking, porn etc, it ends with her not being at all upset about finding marijuana in his room and they get high together. It was a pretty hilarious song, and when I asked Reen about the truth of it later, she rolled her eyes and claimed “it’s just a song.”
The Dolt City Ramblers are definitely a band that you don’t have to be related to to love.