Song of the Day Sep 10/07

 The Imperial Dalharts came to the attention of TCB a few years back with their release: “Finally!”

Please Don’t Talk About Me-(Stept/Clare) First published in 1930. A diverse group of performers have recorded this song over the years, including Frank Sinatra, Ann-Margret, Billie Holiday and Bill Haley & His Comets. Here is the Dalhart Imperials version from 2003 featuring Mark Richardson on the cornet.

Ranch Party–(Whitlock) A stompin’ western swing number written by steel guitarist Tim Whitlock. Proof that the Dalhart Imperials are not just re-visiting the past, but rather they are keeping western swing and traditional country music alive and growing.

Saddle Up–(Whitlock/Cooper) A collaboration by the two principal songwriters of the Dalhart Imperials. Another rockin’ western swing number from The Dalharts’ Finally CD.

Individual tracks from “Finally” are available for purchase at

Our review circa 2004

The Dalhart Imperials – Finally!

(Big Bender Records) The Dalhart Imperials are a Denver based band of versatile musicians who are dedicated and well schooled in the musical stylings of the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s and are dedicated to the preservation of Western musical heritage. Playing vintage instruments, their sound is steeped in the Western swing of Bob Wills and the honky tonk of Hank Williams. While the Imperials sound as though they stepped out of another era, they don’t merely mimic the sound. What sets them apart is that the band boasts 4 talented songwriters who write songs in the tradition by bringing a fresh sound to ‘old styles.’ When they perform covers, the don’t rely on tired overplayed classics, but add to their uniqueness by covering well chosen rare country gems like “Ain’t a Bump in the Road” by Roy Hogshead, and when they do cover a country legend, they choose their lesser known songs, for example, Hank Williams’ “I’m Satisfied.”

After 10 years together, The Dalhart Imperials finally got around to releasing their debut album, appropriately titled Finally!. The Imperials’ lineup consists of Les Cooper (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Mark Richardsun (piano, cornet), Tim Whitlock (steel guitar, mandolin, banjo, backing vocals), Dave Devore (lead guitar, backing vocals) and Rodney Bowen (drums, washboard, backing vocals). Sadly, Aaron Pope who was a member of the Imperials from 2000-2004 contributing his outstanding talent on acoustic and electric bass as well as penning some of the Imperials’ original songs, passed away this past January. Taking over bass duties is Pascal Guimbard.

The Dalhart Imperials pack Finally! with 15 tracks, 13 originals and 2 covers, on which they alternate swing and honky tonk numbers. They put the ‘West’ in Western swing with the strong disc opener, “Saddle Up.” The humorous “Stud” that finds a man admitting those days are behind him and “So Long Vamoose” are terrific examples of more straightforward Western swing. The Imperials provide hillbilly-swing on the outstanding “Slave In My Castle” and imaginatively combine a touch of bluegrass with swing on “Find Yourself In My Arms.” They offer up jazzy swing with a sterling cover of “Please Don’t Talk About Me” and “What Did I Do,” while the swinging, rockabilly tinged “Ranch Party” features some stellar bass slapping. 

On the honky tonk side, the Imperials offer up some strong, classic style shuffles. Highlights include a swinging “Pardon Me While I Cry,” a killer cover of Wynn Stewart’s “Three Cheers For The Loser” and they show off some terrific harmonies on “In Fact” and “Dear Darlin’.” No traditional country album would be complete without a weeper, and the boys toss in two. “Lost Forever” is a bluegrassy, high lonesome lament that opens with a bit of honky tonk piano and includes some fine mandolin picking. The disc’s highlight is a standout late 50s/early 60s classic style barroom weeper, “The Bottle Will Hold Me.” Leaving no stone unturned, The Imperials deliver some impeccably performed rockabilly by way of the smoking “Not Gonna Lay Down.”

Judging by Finally! and the way the band impressively and effortlessly tears their way through their unique mix of classic style traditional country, it’s no wonder that Westword Magazine named The Dalhart Imperials the “Best Country Act” four times. The band makes the following statement on their website: “We would especially like to take this opportunity to thank all of you friends and supporters of traditional country & western music, who have been abandoned and betrayed by the Nashville bean counters and purveyors of the anti-country, for continuing to demand true country and western music to listen to. We pledge to keep putting it out as long as you keep listening.” If you’re a country music fan who can relate to that statement, then The Dalhart Imperials and Finally! definitely belong in your music collection. 

Standout Tracks:Saddle Up,” “Pardon Me If I Cry,” Slave In My Castle,” “Three Cheers For The Loser,” “In Fact,” “Ranch Party,” “The Bottle Will Hold Me,” “Not Gonna Lay Down”

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