Last August, just as her album No Regular Dog was about to drop, Kelsey Waldon was preparing to hit the road for the first time since Covid-19 had ground the world to a halt. The acclaimed country singer-songwriter was anxious—and not just because it had been two years since she had last set foot on stage. On top of the new album, she was breaking in a new band.
But from the very first show, Waldon realized she was part of something special. Beneath the rhinestones of her trademark tailored suit, her flesh chilled with goose pimples. “I felt like a whole new life with the music,” she says. “Writing a song by yourself in your bedroom or on your back porch is one thing. But then to share it with an audience in a dark, sweaty club is really special. We were just having a lot of fun and the audience would feel it. I think everybody just wanted to be there.”
The alchemy of their road show generated buzz on social media and in the pages of The Washington Post, which proclaimed No Regular Dog “easily the best [album] released by any country singer” in 2022. And now, it has been captured in live recordings of each track on a special deluxe version of the album, out April 14th on Oh Boy Records. The extended edition, which also includes live recordings of Waldon’s songs “White Noise, White Lines” and “False King,” features an unreleased studio version of John Prine’s classic “Spanish Pipedream.” That single, along with a live medley of “Season’s Ending/Sweet Little Girl,” was released on March 31st.
Onstage, Waldon keeps steady time with her left boot. Her searing voice slices the ears and heart, and is often echoed by a sawing fiddle (courtesy of Libby Weitnauer) or the whine of pedal steel guitar (Muskrat Jones), and the interplay—underpinned by electric and slide guitar (Junior Tutwiler), bass (Erik Mendez) and drums (Zach Martin)—revs up entire rooms. The five of them, Waldon says, know how to “bring the heat up,” which has led to their moniker: Her Hot Band. “Everybody in the band is a heavyweight in their corner. And everybody plays like they got something to prove. I guess I do too.”
That notion—of refusing to be counted out—helped to inspire No Regular Dog, and it is also woven into the deluxe version’s recordings. Waldon approaches “Spanish Pipedream” with a glimmer in her eye, tapping into the song’s whimsy and deeper meaning of “breaking away from social and societal norms to pursue true happiness.” She believe it’s just as relevant today as when it was released in 1971. “I think all humans at the end of the day just want to pursue this type of dream and freedom and also, they deserve to live how they want to and be treated just the same. It makes you think without preaching to you, something John was good at.”
The live medley of “Season’s Ending/Sweet Little Girl” sizzles with electricity, the two songs fused with a fiddle tune Weitnauer traces to the great Kentucky fiddler John Morgan Salyer. As Waldon concludes the last refrain of “Sweet Little Girl,” Weitnauer reprises the tune, fiddling away as the band breaks out into a frenzied jam.