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Album Review: Chuck Westmoreland Thaws Out in ‘Long Winter Rodeo’

Peter Carlson

Portland singer-songwriter Chuck Westmoreland thought he was done with music. After an Almost Famous moment with his band The Kingdom, Westmoreland hung up his guitar and opened a bar in his new home. The Alabama-born musician returned to music after learning of his wife’s cancer diagnosis. After she beat it, Westmoreland’s muse returned, leading to Long Winter Rodeo. Westmoreland recorded the album using guitars he made himself — an attention to detail that’s obvious throughout the album. Ultimately, Long Winter Rodeo is a character-driven opus that sees Westmoreland unburden himself and asks us to open our hearts.

It might be June now but I like to think Long Winter Rodeo pairs best with early spring. Westmoreland’s warm, whiskey-soaked voice is an instrument by itself, a high lonesome song perfect for songs of hardship and redemption. If there’s a lesson to be learned from Chuck Westmoreland, it’s that there’s honor in the struggle.

Westmoreland uses his barman background to paint pictures of folks vying with problems that may seem small in the grand scheme of things but are all-consuming to them. These are stories about people you may not know, but you certainly feel for them. And, as the title track “Long Winter Rodeo” suggests, what else are you going to do to pass the long winter nights away but listen to tales of summer and its decline? Even as we witness the winters of others’ discontent, Westmoreland’s sympathetic narration suggests that life would be a lot easier if we all thawed out and supported each other. Whatever pain you may be carrying yourself, Westmoreland urges you to sympathize with the person next to you at the bar.

Overall, these are stories of people who have faced their hardships with dignity and vigor. No matter the challenge — whether it’s homesickness, heartbreak, or homophobia — you need to see it through to the bitter end. With hard-driving beats, plainspoken lyrics, and heartland rock verve, Long Winter Rodeo is sure to shake the frost from your heart and prepare you for the fight ahead.

Learn more about Chuck Westmoreland here.

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Album Review: Chuck Westmoreland Thaws Out in ‘Long Winter Rodeo’