At 19, Dan Lambert bought a $15 guitar and just started playing. With the Champaign, Illinois, music scene in full swing, generating major label talents Dan Fogelberg and REO Speedwagon, Lambert was in with a crowd that played a few songs and then listened to country-blues 78s on the radio until the sun came up. Surrounded by the future of Adult Contemporary, it was the style of playing on those 78s that astounded him. It wasn’t until Lambert moved to Kent, Ohio, that he focused on the instrument, learning the complicated fingerstyle playing that he’d heard over those late nights. Encouraged by local jazz guitarist Brad Bolton, Lambert listened to everything he could get his hands on and began building a large collection of music, an approach he'd later understand as a central notion of American Primitive.
After relocating to El Paso, Texas, Lambert got serious about playing professionally and recording. He began assembling an arsenal of 6- and 12-string guitars by seeking out and restoring used and broken instruments. By the time Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight was recorded, he had several Stella 12-strings, a Gibson J45, a Gibson LGO, and one unique-sounding Frankenstein he'd assembled from discarded pieces.
Lambert recalls meeting Peter Lang in Minnesota, who'd worked on a loading dock at a bottling factory to pay for his own productions. Lang was a strong advocate of forgoing the record label route and going it alone; he inspired Lambert to set up a makeshift studio in his garage and record his first album in 1977 for his own Houndstooth imprint. One of the most prolific artists on this compilation, Lambert continuously self-released recordings, issuing four LPs and several CDs. “Charleytown,” a tribute to his midwestern upbringing, is named after the town of St. Charles, Illinois, near Aurora, in the western suburbs of Chicago.