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What's Old is New

The Flatlanders are back after 30 years, and this time they're getting the attention they deserve.

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"We figured 30 years was long enough," Gilmore says, joking about the decision to reunite despite the successful solo careers the three have forged in the interim. Ever upbeat and sticking to his notion that all things are possible, Gilmore acknowledges the Flatlanders was a loose concept years back but times have changed. "It was so much fun on the very first outing the three of us said, 'Let's really try something on purpose.'"

But now regrouped, the trio found that the more things change the more they remain the same. The tour and songs for the new CD "Now Again" are reality almost in spite of the band.

"The odds were against this," Ely contends as he explains his take on the saga. "It's not so much we didn't want to put a record together. But we never really set down…it was difficult to find [time]. Every time we got one [song] down I'd think, 'Wow, how did we do that?'"

A true collaboration, no matter how it came about, the resulting "Now Again" is a timeless collection of 14 acoustic-based songs set to the backdrop of West Texas winds and wide-eyed wonder. Even the darker tunes are rooted in a skewed sense of wry humor and the love songs are ever hopeful. There is warmth to the recording that can only be attributed to a lengthy friendship that goes back to the formative years the three shared in Lubbock, Texas.

Of course, the trio has been creating great music together and separately for decades between Flatlanders' incarnations. Ely turned on his rock 'n' roll attitude, toured with The Clash and his own collection of top-notch road bands, and recorded numerous major label projects. Hancock quietly released a string of his independent and self-described "weird folky-world" projects slowly carving a respected musical niche while Gilmore dropped out of music for a while. Jimmie Dale returned in 1988 and his recordings quickly garnered him critical raves and international audiences. Through the years, the three remained friends, recording each other's songs and frequently performing on the same stages. Hancock says they have always enjoyed singing with each other explaining simply that "it's a great magic feeling that doesn't go unnoticed."

Now on the road as a band for the first time, more of the musical world is in tune with the Flatlanders' sound and the songwriters are in the tour groove. They agree this is not a one-shot, make-a-buck project that three guys are enduring for the wrong reasons.

"It's an adjustment that requires no adjustment whatsoever," Jimmie Dale explains using his special brand of logic. "This is too good to pass by. I feel like we've discovered buried treasure in our back yard. Now we don't know when to stop." S



The Flatlanders play the Canal Club Friday, Aug. 23. The Shiners open. Show is at 10 p.m. Tickets are $18.50 and available at Plan 9.

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