Saturday, August 31, 2013

East Nashville: Doug and Telisha Gone Wild

About 18 months or so ago , fellow blogger | tweeter Truersound tipped me off to a husband-wife performing duo, Doug & Telisha Williams. He thought - and rightfully so - that I'd dig one of their unrecorded songs titled Massey's Run because of its connection to NASCAR racing in general and driver Richard Petty specifically. He was spot-on, and I blogged about the song on my racing-themed blog in September 2012.

Over the last few months, I learned Doug and Telisha relocated a couple of years ago to East Nashville from Martinsville, Virginia (a legendary NASCAR market BTW). Last fall, they set up a Kickstarter campaign and successfully raised the funds needed for studio time, production work, session musicians and the like to record a new album that would include Massey's Run. The result to be released on September 10 - Things That Used To Shine - is one to be be enjoyed. The duo added drummer Jake Winebrenner to the band and the trio was renamed Wild Ponies.

I'm a Nashville-(almost all my)-lifer. I was reared on a lot of country music before finding my own interests in rock. Somehow, someway, I think I knew the parts of country music of my dad's LP collection that I would eventually keep and like - and what I wouldn't. Over time, the layered, formulaic, corporate, over produced, 16th Avenue country didn't work for me. But the style of country the Wild Ponies rocks is the kind I can and do embrace.

Telisha has a fantastic vocal range. She can vary from full-throttled belt 'em out sounds without cracking pitch to a higher-octave, whimsical sound to a downright sultry, quiet, *gulp* I'll-cut-ya tone.

A few comments (and videos) from a several of the new record's tracks...
  • Truth Is - On the second track of the album, Telisha immediately grabs the groove on her upright bass while also handling the vocals. Listen carefully too because she alludes to a scarring truth from her youth.
  • Trigger - The inspiration for this (hopefully) fictional song may have evolved from that tough home experience by Telisha when she was younger. Look for the song's video on CMT soon after the record is released on September 10th.
He stared right at that picture hanging right there on the wall
It was a picture of the two of us in front of Ruby Falls
He took me there in '93 though he didn't want to go
Was afraid of being underground down in a deep, dark hole

I just left him laying there right on the kitchen floor
 His blood spilled on the tile that he laid nine years before
And the blood that pooled around him may not wash away my sin
But I'll be damned if he's ever gonna touch my girl again
  • Massey's Run - As mentioned before, this song was my intro to the band. And I dig the recorded version with additional musicians as much as the stripped down version I heard originally. I also had the good fortune of hearing the Wild Ponies perform it at Nashville's Family Wash.
  • Trouble Looks Good On You - The video for this song with its western swing vibe was featured on Couch By Couchwest last March. All of CXCW is still uncertain if the Fat Tire beer cans are a paid product placement. WHOOP WHOOP!
  • Broken - Massey's Run was my intro to what is now Wild Ponies, and the vengeful, murderous Trigger was the first song of the new record to really make me sit up and take notice. But with multiple listens, I think the raucous Broken may have emerged as my favorite track.
Heavy on the down-beat another string’s busted
A couple spares left but they all look rusted
Shorted out cord and a 60 cycle hum
A bad ground wire makes my face go numb
Everything I own is just a little bit broken
Hope I can hold it together just a little bit longer
  • Another Chance - The album's closer featuring the story of three central characters may be one of the saddest songs since Townes' Marie. Or is it? You'll have to listen through it all - including the haunting backing vocals by the Inglewood Harmony Choir (my name, not theirs) to draw your own conclusions about sorrow, redemption, joy, moment-by-moment, self-reflection, desperation, a life's mulligan, etc.
Its been two weeks since anybody's heard from him
So finally the po-leece just bust on in / to take a look
Well its no surprise he's still sitting right there
Empty pill bottles all around his chair
Looks like he's finally gone home
Hallelujah, thank the Lord / for another chance.

As referenced earlier, Wild Ponies played at The Family Wash back in May of this year. Their set was streamed live from Family Wash that Wednesday night (as all Wednesday FW shows are). If you didn't watch it on-line then - you can still do so now through the tech of Ustream. The band played many of the songs from their new record that night.

So when the album is released on September 10, buy it and listen to it. Repeatedly. (The listening part I mean - you don't have to buy it each time you replay the alb... oh, never mind.)

And keep your eyes and ears open for various festivals and clubs near you. Doug and Telisha (and now Jake) are road dogs who spend a lot of time touring. They are talented musically and vocally - plus, they're just damn nice people. Buy 'em a PBR if you get a chance, and tell them toomuchcountry sends best wishes.


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