Randy Rogers Band (outside)
Randy Rogers Band outdoor festival. Friday, June 22nd. Gates are 4:30 and music starts at 5:30. THIS SHOW IS RAIN OR SHINE. Opening the show is new Nashville rising star Ben Rue making his 5th appearance at the club. Many people will know Ben’s XM radio hit “I Can’t Wait.” Following Ben will be Ashley McBryde. We have been wanting Ashley at the club as soon as we first heard her billboard hit “Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega.” We should be announcing one more band to the lineup soon. General Admission Tickets $20 plus $2 service charge. There are no chairs or seats provided. Lawn chairs may be brought in but can not be placed within the first 50 feet of the stage.
Authenticity isn’t something that can be manufactured in a studio. It’s not a craft that can be learned or artfully practiced. It comes from living life. It’s the by-product of blood, sweat and tears and as the foundation for music, it elevates mere entertainment to compelling art.
“You’ve just got to be true to yourself and you can’t fool anybody,” Randy Rogers says of the band’s philosophy. “As a whole, our body of work is pretty consistent with our live show, and the band that plays on the record is the band that you go see.”
The Texas-based band has kept its lineup intact since 2002, and the group has reached the Top 5 of Billboard’s country albums chart with each of its last three studio releases, including 2016’s “Nothing Shines Like Neon.” The group recently completed a new album, set for mid-2018 release, at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A with GRAMMY-winning producer Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson).
Over the course of a dozen releases and multiple major award nominations, Rogers and his band have gone from rowdy college-town bar group to one of the most successful, longest-running acts in the always burgeoning Texas music scene. A group that’s regularly on the road 200 dates a year is booked deep into 2018 to play fan favorites like “Tequila Eyes,” “Tonight’s Not the Night,” “Kiss Me in the Dark” and “In My Arms Instead” all across the country.
The music has evolved as they’ve soaked up life experience. “As men, we’ve all matured and lived a lot of life together,” Rogers says. “We’ve had a few breakups happen to us. We’ve had babies. We’ve had life changes. I’ve been in this band 17 years so a lot has changed. I still listen to Merle Haggard every night. I mean that hasn’t changed, but a lot has changed for us musically and privately. We all are in a good spot and we all are just as good friends as when we started.”
Camaraderie and creativity have made Rogers and bandmates Geoffrey Hill (guitar), Johnny “Chops” Richardson (bass guitar), Brady Black (fiddle), Les Lawless (drums) and Todd Stewart (utility player) one of the top bands on the competitive Texas music scene.
A native of Cleburne, Texas, Rogers grew up addicted to traditional country music. “I wanted to be George Strait when I was in the sixth grade,” he says. “I grew up listening to Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, I’ve listened to them more than anybody else, my whole life. I always liked songs. I always wanted to find out who wrote the songs and what the songs were about.”
Like many artists, Rogers got his start performing in church and then expanded to local venues. “I could write a song when I was pretty little, 11, 12 or 13,” he says. “It’s like a kid who could do calculus or something. It was just something that clicked in my brain for me. I went and finished college and got a degree in public relations and then started a band.”
Since then the Randy Rogers Band has steadily built a following that has spilled beyond their native Texas.
“You come to a show, you know what you’re going to get,” Rogers says. “We’ve worked hard at making ourselves better on stage and we care about our live show. It’s a way to come out and unwind, and we’ve stuck to writing songs that are about real life, about breakups or divorces, falling in love or babies being born and, in the case of this record, even death, the ups and downs of life. People can relate. That’s what country music is supposed to be. Our band has been around for a long time because there’s no bullshit to us. We’re not in it to be rich and famous. We’re in it to make a living, provide for our families and do something that we all love. You can’t fool people and we haven’t ever tried. I think that’s the key.”
ASHLEY MCBRYDE BIO:
“I hear the crowd, I look around, and I can’t find one empty chair. Not bad for a girl going nowhere” sings Ashley McBryde on “Girl Goin’ Nowhere,” the seminal title track from her forthcoming LP. They’re words built from experience: over the course of her life, growing up in Arkansas, McBryde’s been finding her own way to fill those seats and sway those hearts since the very first time her teacher told her that her dreams of writing songs in Nashville would never see the light of day. Every time she was brought down, she persevered; trusting her timeless tone and keen, unwavering eye for the truth. It paid off. In April, Eric Church brought her on stage and called her a “whiskey-drinking badass,” confessing that he’s a massive fan. The rest of the world is quickly catching on,
Dubbed as one of Rolling Stone’s “Artists You Need To Know,” citing she’s “an Arkansas red-clay badass, with the swagger of Hank Jr. and the songwriting of Miranda Lambert,” McBryde fearlessly lays it all on the line, and it’s that honest all-in approach that has led to NPR critic Ann Powers to ask if McBryde could be “among the first post-Stapleton country stars?” McBryde’s album will showcase an artistic vision that will prove her to be one of the genre’s keenest working storytellers, bringing unwavering honesty back into a pop-preoccupied genre. Pulling tales from every corner of her human experience – a happenstance love on “A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega,” a neighbor with a heavy past on “Livin’ Next to LeRoy,” a girl with an impossibly possible dream on “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” – McBryde sings with fire and fury, laughing and swigging that brown stuff along the way. And she’s not going to do it in glitter and sequins, either, like a good lady of Music Row. McBryde will wear her boots and crack her jokes: with McBryde, what you see is what you get, and what you get is what you see.
It’s that authenticity bleeding through every lyric, riff and song that had McBryde’s name as the top trending item on Apple Music All Genre upon release of “A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega.” It’s those lyrics that hit the heart and gut, like “here’s to the breakups that didn’t break us,” that scored her opening slots Chris Stapleton and Eric Church.
McBryde was raised in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas, taking to music at the age when most kids were running wild in the backyard, dressing dolls or playing with trains. At three, she’d secretly pluck her father’s guitar like an upright bass, and after about the 17th time being caught, her father bought her a guitar of her own. When she was twelve, she played her parents and grandparents her very first composition.
“It was about this awful torrid love affair,” says McBryde, laughing. “My mom was like, ‘oh shit. You are a twelve going on forty.’ At twelve I knew that I could make stuff up. At sixteen I was like, I’m getting good at this. By the time I got to college, I had a big catalogue for an eighteen-year-old.”
It was at Arkansas State when, while a member of the marching band, McBryde finally started sharing her voice with others – first at karaoke parties, then in a band, and then in Memphis where she’d play a mix of cover and original songs while still commuting from college. When McBryde finally moved to Nashville in 2007, she settled with a friend at an apartment in a building that housed storage units – not the most glamorous of homes, but enough of a place to crash in between a healthy dose of dive bars, biker hangouts, and colorful joints where she fought to have her songs heard.
Her first EP, the self-released 2016 Jalopies and Expensive Guitars was just a taste of what McBryde can do, and, on her full-length debut, she will meld her songwriting chops with the vision of producer Jay Joyce, peppering her tales with a touch of guitar-driven rock fury – but offering plenty of room for her emotive, vulnerable twang to move softly through songs like “Girl Goin’ Nowhere,” which was written the morning that Guy Clark passed away.
“I’m not a pretty crier, and I got to my write with Jeremy Bussey that morning, red and blotchy,” she says. “So he said, ‘for Guy, maybe we should write a good song, one you’d want to play at the Opry someday.’ So, I told the story of when I was back in Algebra class, and we were going around the room saying what we wanted to do when we grew up. When it got to me, I said, ‘I’m going to move to Nashville and write songs, and they’re going to be on the radio.’ The teacher looked at me and said, ‘that won’t happen and you better have a good backup plan.’ It didn’t put the fire out, it just added to it.”
That fire’s been described as a combination of Bonnie Raitt, Lzzy Hale and Loretta Lynn, and that’s not wrong: McBryde isn’t afraid to tell the truth, get raw and real and use the spirits of country, folk and rock when it serves her greater purpose. And McBryde indeed played “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” at her Opry debut, and still performs it on stage to crowds that now sing along. She gets emotional from time to time, remembering the days when she was working at a guitar shop or as a security guard or selling barbecue, never letting that vision go – a vision she will share on her forthcoming LP that will help remind Nashville what country music is about. And that’s the stories that shake us, make us and tell us a little more about what it’s like to be human.
And that girl goin’ nowhere, from a little town in Arkansas? She’s a whiskey-drinking badass, going everywhere. Just watch.