So far, there are two Gas For Less songs that choke me up. I’m not alone. Someone posted on front man Ryan Racine’s Facebook profile, “FU for making me cry into my whiskey…Shut your guitar.”
Racine, sincerely baffled, replied, “Since when is crying into your whiskey a bad thing?”
Racine’s music is happily immersed in vintage honky-tonk misery. Look at these lyrics to “Born Sorry,” a full-twang-ahead original that’s a staple of his live set. Sweet, slow acoustic picking is joined by slide guitar that accentuates without overwhelming the simple tune.
I was born sorry
I’m the king of regret
Yeah, I’m sorry for what I’ve done
And things I ain’t done yet
Some are born lucky
Some are born to win
I was born sorry
So don’t ask me to apologize again
Racine was just fifteen when he fronted the popular Community High rockabilly trio Lucky Haskins. They opened for rockabilly legend Carl Perkins, performed at the 1995 Detroit Music Awards, and built a solid fan base.
He’s since worked as guitarist for Los Diablos and KC Groves and was a founding member of the popular Irish-punk group Mogue Doyle. In GFL, he writes, sings lead, and plays acoustic and electric guitars, performing both originals and standards from the golden age of country.
The other guys in Gas For Less are local music veterans: Alex Anest (of Delta 88) on Telecaster, drummer Dave McWilliam, and bassist and backup vocalist Keith Meisel. Anest plays smoothly, eyes closed and head back, barely moving, even during a raucous Elvis song, at the end of which he holds one pure note till it drops to the floor.
The original “Last Time I’m Gone” is moderately paced and mellow and a bit dark:
I’ve had more abuse
than I can blame myself for
But I’m sure that I deserve
what I’ve returned for again and again
There’s not one excuse
I see fit for use
I’ve worn out every reason
I could fabricate to let you back in
This is the last time I’m gone
Won’t be around again tomorrow
Make-believing like there’s
nothing here that’s wrong
On stage, Racine’s showmanship matches his musical skill. He croons through a sneered upper lip, dropping his chin to his chest and treating us to a perfect cowboy hat silhouette. He sweeps his guitar high in the air, showing off his fancy guitar work and huge belt buckle.
#PAGEBREAK#It works. I’ve seen plenty of women shark around him once he comes off stage, waiting in line for a touch of that heartbreak.
Ryan Racine and Gas for Less are at Ypsi’s Keystone Underground Martini Bar on Friday, March 19.