It's easy to take the Dalhart Imperials for granted. The Denver-based combo has been kicking around for nearly ten years, long enough to perfect its spirited blend of Western swing, Bakersfield-style country and rockabilly. The combo's played hundreds of shows around town, but one thing it hasn't done -- until now -- is record a full-length album. The aptly named Finally!, released on Big Bender Records, is a fine testament to the band's talent and longevity. The album's fourteen songs -- nearly all of them originals by lead singer Les Cooper and steel guitarist Tim Whitlock -- evoke country music's post-war honky-tonk period, when twangy Fender Telecasters and wailing steel guitars became the genre's dominant instruments. As a stylist, Cooper's no George Jones, but his unpolished voice suits the music just fine. His high-caliber bandmates include Whitlock, guitarist Dave Devore, pianist Mark Richardson, bassist Aaron Pope and drummer Rodney Bowen. Naturally, the best place to hear music like this is in a smoke-filled bar while under the influence of a couple of cold ones; you can find that perfect combination on Friday, May 30, when the Imperials hold a CD-release party at the Climax Lounge. -- David Hill
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