Bad For You The SteelDrivers
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- 1Bad For You03:55
- 2The Bartender03:28
- 312 O’Clock Blues03:57
- 4I Choose You03:04
- 5Falling Man03:14
- 7Glad I’m Gone02:59
- 8Innocent Man04:14
- 9Mama Says No02:58
- 10Lonely And Being Alone03:02
- 11When A Heart Breaks03:47
Info for Bad For You
The SteelDrivers will release Bad For You, their fifth studio album and the follow-up to their GRAMMY®-winning 2015 release The Muscle Shoals Recordings. The eagerly-awaited album features eleven new songs, ten of which were co-written by Tammy Rogers, whose spirited and soulful voice and fiddle playing have been a hallmark of the band’s hard-driving sound throughout its existence. It also marks the band’s debut recording with Kelvin Damrell, the singer and guitarist who joined the band in early 2018.
The album-opening title track, released today, churns slowly like a paddle-wheel steamer negotiating a shallow muddy river. Damrell’s voice rises and howls with poignant desperation, while Rogers’ fiddle carves lonesome answering lines, and the 15-year Steeldriver tradition of dark, jagged-edged goth-grass feels intact and heading for new places.
Then in “The Bartender (Load The Gun)” the main character wrestles with his role. Is he a friend-in-need or an accessory to a crime? It’s a question perfectly suited to the Steeldrivers’ unsparing blues. Up next, “12 O’Clock Blues” takes us inside the haunted anxiety of insomnia. Written by Rogers with longtime musical companion Kieran Kane and his duo partner Rayna Gellert, it became Damrell’s favorite for its groove shockwaves and its depiction of a shared human experience.
There are brighter offerings as well, including the pure ardor of “I Choose You” and the Cajun-inflected country bounce of “Glad I’m Gone.” Yet the emotional seriousness of the whole collection is firmly established by “Falling Man,” a song inspired by the breathtaking photo of an unidentified victim of 9/11 “caught in a frame” and thus made immortal. “I’ll never die/I’ll never land/Call me what I am/A falling man,” sings Damrell in his most vulnerable performance, with Rogers in sympathetic harmony.
Bad For You arrives after a period of triumph and adaptation. Shortly after their GRAMMY® win in 2016, guitarist and lead singer Gary Nichols decided to go his own way. The band momentarily hit pause while they considered their options, but ultimately decided that this setback was not insurmountable, and they launched the search for a lead singer. In a stroke of remarkable good fortune, Rogers’ daughter came across Damrell – a rock singer from Berea, Kentucky – on YouTube, and soon, he joined Rogers and longtime bandmates and friends Richard Bailey (banjo), Mike Fleming (bass) and Brent Truitt (mandolin) as the newest member of the group.
“I was pretty fresh to bluegrass,” Damrell says. “The only bluegrass I’d heard was couch pickin’ at my grandparents’ house, and I wasn’t into it, to be completely honest. I was a rocker. Cinderella was my favorite band before I met these guys.” But that kind of angular perspective was more in tune with The Steeldrivers than he could have known, and his initiation into bluegrass infused a convert’s zeal into his performances. “Everybody in the band was virtuosos,” he says. “And I’d never seen that side of bluegrass. I thought it was just that old foot-stomping traditional stuff, so I was surprised to hear this. And I knew I had a lot of work to do to keep up.”
That a quintet could sound so consistent over time, while adding new repertoire and even new lead singers, is a testament to the SteelDrivers’ mettle and resilience. As Rogers says with a shrug, “We all still love the music and wanted to continue, so what else were we to do but keep SteelDrivin’?”
The band has announced an extensive tour that kicks off in early February. They will preview material from Bad For You at a sold-out show at Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley this Saturday, December 7. A full list of confirmed dates is below, and more shows will be announced in the coming weeks.
The SteelDrivers’ brand of bluegrass – intense, dark, poetic, and inescapably human – is a refreshing reminder of the timeless power of stringband music, and is captured perfectly on The SteelDrivers. Produced by Nashville ace Luke Wooten, The SteelDrivers was recorded mostly live on the studio floor, vocals and all. Its songs grapple with classic themes of regret, love, and redemption, from the escalating prison lament of “Midnight Train to Memphis” to the chilling murderer’s plea encapsulated in “If It Hadn’t Been for Love.” “East Kentucky Home” is a timeless traditional bluegrass lament, with its strains of homesickness, loss, and abandonment, but ingeniously reinvented with off-kilter rhythmic accents and a decidedly contemporary chord progression.
The willingness to set aside the unspoken rules that ruthlessly govern bluegrass set the SteelDrivers apart from the innumerable faceless acts vying for the bluegrass spotlight.
Grammy nominated banjo player, Richard Bailey has recorded with such diverse artists as Al Green and George Jones. Featured in the book Masters of the 5-String Banjo, Bailey has performed with Bill Monroe, Roland White, Vassar Clements, Loretta Lynn, Chet Akins, Larry Cordle, Laurie Lewis, Dale Ann Bradley, and countless others. He has also recorded with Kenny Rogers, Michael Martin Murphy, Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, and Ronnie Milsap and has played at Carnegie Hall and on Austin City Limits.
A versatile veteran, Mike Fleming lays down the firm foundation and sings the baritone harmony that rounds out the SteelDrivers’ sound. A self-confessed “recovering banjo player,” Mike has recorded with Holly Dunn, Joy Lynn White, and with groundbreaking singer/songwriter David Olney. In addition to traveling the world during stints with Dunn and Kevin Welch, Mike has appeared on Austin City Limits, Nashville Now, Crook and Chase, and too many Grand Ole Opry shows and festivals to count.
With many years of recording touring and producing under his belt, Brent isn't a newcomer to the music scene. Brent has performed with John Hartford, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, Dixie Chicks, and James Taylor, and has traveled the globe with James Taylor, Dixie Chicks and Dolly Parton. He has won Grammy awards for his engineering and mixing on tracks from Disney's 'Monsters Inc" and "Toy Story II", and has appeared on Austin City Limits, Hee Haw, Today Show, Saturday Night Live and many more TV appearances.
From Muscle Shoals to Music Row, the talk is always the same, “It's Gary Nichols' gritty and soulful story telling that sets him apart from the rest, he is the real deal!". For the past half-century, Muscle Shoals, Alabama has produced some of the finest musicians, singers, songwriters and record producers of our day. From W.C. Handy and Percy Sledge to Sam Phillips, Rick Hall and the immortal Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section otherwise known as “ The Swampers” or “ The FAME Gang”. Muscle Shoals has always been a hotbed of talent. Gary Nichols is in the ranks with all the great songwriters, musicians, producers and performers of the Muscle Shoals past and present. In 2002, Gary helped create the first "FAME Tuesday Music Club", which consisted of bringing in young talent to develop their recording, performing and songwriting talents in the confines of historic FAME Studios. Gary took advantage of this opportunity to impress everyone at FAME with his work ethic and raw talent. In February of 2004, Gary signed a publishing deal with FAME Publishing Company and a major label deal with Mercury Records, Nashville. After releasing his first top 40 single, Unbroken Ground, his name has spread like wildfire through writing circles and record labels of Nashville and beyond. Now, this singer/guitar-slinger writes, produces records and tours with the Ameri-Grass super group, The SteelDrivers. When he’s not in the studio, touring with the band or teaching at Florence and Muscle Shoals High-Schools, you can find Gary helping in his community through philanthropic works or spending time with his family.
Growing up in a family bluegrass band that also included banjo great Scott Vestal, Tammy brings a lifetime of instrumental and vocal experience to the SteelDrivers. She was also in the legendary pre-Union Station bluegrass band Dusty Miller with Barry Bales, Tim Stafford, Adam Steffey, and Brian Fesler. No stranger to the studio, she has recorded with Neil Diamond, Wynonna, Rodney Crowell, Radney Foster, Bill Anderson, Iris Dement, Randy Scruggs, Patty Loveless, Buddy and Julie Miller, Jim Lauderdale, and many more. She has toured the world with Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Patty Loveless, Maria McKee, and the Dead Reckoners. Her songs have been recorded by Terri Clarke and Frances Black.
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