Both were produced by Hanke’s friend and bandmate, Merel Bregante, who gained fame drumming for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Loggins & Messina. The players include Bregante’s wife, singer Sarah Pierce; guitarist Kenny Grimes; keyboardist Riley Osbourn; steel player Cindy Cashdollar … names that resonate far beyond Austin’s borders. But for Hanke, it’s not about pedigree, it’s about honesty. Soul. Feeling. It’s about appreciating Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson and Townes Van Zandt, but loving classic rock, too. And knowing that songs about beer and trucks might sell records, but that doesn’t mean they’re good, even if they are by fellow Texans.
“Factory Man,” on Hanke’s own Ten Foot Texan Records label, is filled with songs borne of experience, populated by real people. Hanke adheres to the “write what you know” school; for him, BS just won’t fly. The best grooves come from what you know, too, and this album is a great blend of a little bit ’o soul, some blues, some country, rock, folk … etc. Americana. It’s more electric than “Autumn Blues,” but it’s not ragged, in-your-face rawk. It’s cool, yet warm — and that’s not a contradiction. With Hanke’s high tenor (which sounds not unlike that of his neighbor, Slaid Cleaves) supported by just-right harmonies and instrumentation throughout, it’s a natural progression for an artist who’s not afraid of taking his time to get it right.
He spent half of the time between albums living on South Padre Island, learning to play electric guitar, gigging in bars and hanging out on the beach. Hurricane Ike motivated him to head back to Austin with his trusty dog, Waylon, and record again.