Photo by Adam Graves

That Old-Time Feeling

Eugene’s Breakers Yard revives the past with new album

Much to his chagrin, Brandon Olszewski’s 12-year-old daughter likes pop country music. “I can’t stand it,” Olszewski tells me. “It’s awful.” He prefers Hank Williams.

“Hank Williams sang much better songs,” Olszewski claims, his eyes lighting up as he talks about all sorts of vintage styles of pop music, “and was a much better singer than a lot of these modern country people.” 

Olszewski plays with local old-time music revivalists Breakers Yard, so he loves all that sepia-tone sound, from Texas swing to hot club jazz — the dustier the better. Breakers Yard recently released I Don’t Hurt Anymore, an album recorded in a period of personal upheaval and heartbreak for Olszewski. 

You can tell by some of the song selections, tunes like Ferlin Husky’s “I Wouldn’t Treat a Dog Like You’re Treating Me.” Or the gently jazzy 1918 hit “After You’ve Gone” by Turner Layton and Henry Creamer.

But Olszewski demurs from calling it a breakup album. It’s also about redemption and renewal, he says. 

The lone original on the album, “Calliope Blues,” is penned by Olszewski.

The record has an overall country feel, leaning toward the classic styles of Jimmie Rodgers or Gene Autry. The thrill of the chase is what Olszewski loves about recovering old forgotten classics, otherwise relegated to the spider-webbed corners of popular consciousness.

He spends a lot of down-time in what he calls “the YouTube hole.” “There’s always that hunt,” he says. “Can you get something that nobody knows?”

But Olszewski wasn’t the only one selecting the songs for the album.

“You just play whatever you’re motivated to play,” he says, something he feels makes Breakers Yard so creatively successful. “There’s always new material coming in. This way we all get to sing songs that we want to sing.” 

Considering this music’s enduring appeal, Olszewski again brings up his daughter. While making breakfast, he says, he sometimes hears her singing Hank Williams. 

You can see where she gets it.

I Don’t Hurt Anymore is available at breakersyardmusic.com. Breakers Yard plays as a duo 4 pm Sunday, June 17, at Wildcraft Ciderworks; FREE, all-ages.