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Leaving TX, Alternative Country Rock Band
Leaving TX Alt. Rockers
Chris Patterson & his Band "Leaving, TX"
"One part Irish, one part Scottish, one part Norwegian, one part Cuban, add a telecaster, a pedal steel, an old beat up Gretsch, and a case of PBR, mix it up, and drop it in Washington D.C., and call it Leaving, TX," says, Chris Patterson, singer-song writer-guitarist for "Leaving, TX."
On the back of the bands debut album, "100 Miles to Sunday" it says, "Leaving Texas is more like a state of mind than the dusty little hell hole that comes to mind when you hear the bands name." Ironically enough, the band is not from the state of Texas, but they definitely capture this ‘state of mind' quite well in their music. Now, all you need to do is pop their sound into your stereo system and hear the music for yourself. They have been compared to the music style of the "Drive by Truckers," an alternative country band, out of Nashville, Tennessee.
Chris Patterson, the lead singer, now living in Gaithersburg, Maryland, has a nice sharp-raspy voice, perfect for any country-rocker style and found three very talented musicians (Gary Cecil, Andrew Buhler and Thor Smith) that make his songs come alive. These guys are just the right professional-eclectic blend that came together and are what we call real music and some might call, "alternative country". This group of guys will definitely make you greatly appreciate the sound of country music, even if you aren't an original fan of the country sound.
"Leaving, TX" is composed of 4 guys that began their lives from different parts of the globe. Patterson is an Iowa native, who has been living in Gaithersburg, Maryland, for 6 years. He does the song writing, lead vocals and plays the acoustic and electric guitars. He received his first guitar at the age of 8, although didn't really get into the craft until he was 30. Patterson likes to spend a few weeks a year in Ireland, to soak up more music knowledge and get back to his Irish roots.
You can hear Gary Cecil doing background vocals and workin' the bass; he is from Edinburgh, Scotland. Andrew Buhler hits all riffs on the electric guitar and works the steel petal; he is from Miami, Florida. And we can't forget what holds the fort together; drummer Thor Smith, of Halden Norway.
It all started in late 2004, when Chris found bassist, Gary Cecil, while at one of his gigs. When Chris heard Gary play, he just knew that he was "it." From that point, Chris had the foundation of the band, him and Gary. There was definitely something that sparked musically with the two of them, and from there they set out to find the rest of the band. Soon after, they were able to recruit Thor and Andrew, and Chris came up with the name that he thought suited them perfectly, "Leaving, TX." He thought it was catchy, yet simple and easy to remember, and the guys agreed.
By 2005, they were ready to lay the songs down in the studio, and were able to hook up with veteran producer and engineer, Paul Grupp. Grupp has worked with bands such as, "The Byrds", "Boston" and "Charlie Daniels."
Patterson said, "Paul is a perfectionist and a real hoot [he laughs] to work with." After all, Grupp believed in the band and wanted to do an excellent job for them, and ultimately finished the recording process in 9 days. What an achievement. Patterson noted, "It took about 10 months for us as a group to get the songs together, and did spend 9 days in the studio with Paul." "We recorded everything line by line and re-did all the vocal tracks." "The whole thing was more of a learning experience for all of us, and we know next time what to expect and how to prepare better," says Patterson.
Their record, "100 Miles to Sunday" is filled with a uniqueness of its own. It isn't quite rock, bluegrass, country, or Irish music that Patterson listens to on his frequent visits to Ireland; it is a blend from each of these musical genres. Some of the numbers to look out for include, "Fallen Angel," "If the Bottle Doesn't Kill Me," "Nashville," and "Hundred Miles." These songs, as well as the others have a catchy yet simple tune that will make you want to sing along, and smile.
They have already had a lot of positive feedback from various magazines, and radio stations across Europe, where they are already on the charts. The question one might ask, which I did was, how is the band already popular in Europe and not in the U.S.? The answer is simple. Patterson says, "Europe is very much into Americana and alternative country music."
Patterson has a friend in the Netherlands, whom of which he sent the record to. It certainly got in the right hands. "Leaving, TX" has already debuted at number 8 on the Euro Americana Chart (www.euroamericanachart.nl). The chart is put together on a monthly basis by journalists, promoters and retailers all over Europe.
Patterson does all the promoting for his band himself, and sends the bands press kit and CD's to writers, deejays, and various individuals who are in the alternative country scene, and has had a lot of positive responses and feedback already. He also got a web designer out in California to create their site (www.leavingtx.com). All venue dates are up on their MySpace page (www.myspace.com/leavingtx), to keep fans up to date. As some individuals may not know; myspace.com is becoming a great tool for emerging musical talent, and is quite handy for downloading music clips and posting all sorts of information to get a fan base going. Patterson believes myspace has helped gain more listeners.
Some of the positive feedback is as follows. ONTAP Magazine says, "Travel a few miles south of alt-country and turn right at cow-punk." This is a good sum of what they are about. I can see a lot of potential for this band to expand the music further, almost like a harder country-rock if there is such a genre. Alt.country.nl says, "This is a band which deserves to be heard more often." Original Copy says their music is "Excellent Twang-Rock". Slacker Country says, "We loved it. "The music is rowdy, the music is rebellious...these guys appear to have a chip on their shoulder, the kind of chip that leads to good music." Eddie Russell from Outlaw for Peace Radio says, "Most ‘Texelent' recording as it feels the spirit and bares the soul." The band has a spirit that is quite alive and was created by their many inspirations that made them musicians individually before they formed.
The band has many inspirations, but individually they all have different tastes; together with Patterson's songs they have formed their own unique alternative country sound. Some of Patterson's main influences are Tim Easton, Johnny Cash, Steve Earl, John Dee Graham, The Waterboys, and Hank Williams. Cecil grew up listening to British tunes and after he came to the U.S. he learned from Zappa, Capt. Beefheart, and Jimmy Hendrix. He also likes Bluegrass and Reggae. Like Cecil, Hendrix was an inspiration to Buhler, which made him want to learn the guitar. Smith likes all kinds of rock n' roll music and country. He has played the drums since he was in the first grade, and got his first professional gig at the age of 12.
Before Patterson started "Leaving TX" he collaborated with a jam band called "Grooved Pavement" out of D.C., and when he left the band, he spent the following 18 months studying and writing more tunes. First and foremost, he has always thought of himself as a song writer, as opposed to just a musician. He says, initially it was the first part of the industry he wanted to learn more about. After taking a song-writing course a few years ago, he was advised of a fact about songwriting that blew him away, as well as every person in the class.
"In the course we were told that if you get your song on the top 10 of the charts, it's roughly $ 800,000 in your pocket." That certainly was good news for songwriters with great potential, as well as a motivational tool for any lyricist, especially Patterson. He has always thought about sending his songs to the Nashville music scene to see what happens. If anything, the class was an extra boost of encouragement and it helped him to continue to crank out song after song, which eventually led to "100 Miles to Sunday".
When it comes to song writing Patterson does various things to make sure he is always prepared when an idea pops into mind for a new tune. He says he always keeps a pen and paper with him, and has even called his house and left a message on the recorder so he wouldn't forget his idea. This sounds like a great way to remember something. But the most efficient way and the most typical for songwriter is with a guitar in hand, and this is the method he uses most often. Patterson is also a member of the "Artist Writers Month" which he says also helps his writing method. He says, "Pressure is good."
The critical question that I asked him was why he writes the songs he does and his response was, "I write what I know." He looks at the positive side of life to help him focus, as well as inspiration from his family. He said, "Just the other day my daughter came up with an idea ‘painting silver gold'". These words were an inspiration for him to write a song.
Patterson likes the ‘ruffer songs' especially when it comes to his music. But when he's listening to music it is usually the non-mainstream type. Currently he is listening to a band from Memphis called, "Lucero." They are an alternative country band.
Patterson's songs have a simple country flair to them that conveys a story. He told me, "I like to tell a story in my songs." This seems like not only a good approach but it makes more of a connection to the listener. Most of the big names out in the music industry use the ‘story telling' technique and they always seem to have a hit. Patterson's songs are definitely catchy, simple, and you can definitely tell he has a gift. Other than his own song writing, he says the band does do many cover songs when performing live.
Patterson says, "The guys love to perform live." "It's just the overall rush of playing live that we like." "You know when you start seeing nods from the audience ...you know they get it." He likes to connect with his audience and in between songs he says, "Gary and I will have a little banter back and forth." "Or I'll go into an explanation about a song, to let everyone know what it's about."
The band has played for mostly local venues, in Baltimore (Mums, The Can Company, Austin Grill), Silver Spring (Austin Grill, Half Moon), Washington D.C. (Staccato, Velvet Lounge), Gaithersburg (Firehouse Cue), Vienne, VA (Jammin Java), Charlottesville, VA (Starr Hill Music Club), and Alexandria VA (Old Towne Arts Festival).
Some of the band members have played at CBGB's in New York, and D.C. 101's annual Chili Cookoff, and the Warner Theatre. Chris has played solo shows in Ireland, Scotland, Texas, Tennessee, and various places in Maryland, including Frederick's very own, Westside Café and The Coffee Shop.
I asked Patterson which song he thinks the band should be known for, or which song off their album "100 Miles to Sunday", could potentially be a hit. He suggested, "Maybe Bourbon Breath Kiss [he laughs for a second or two] could be a hit." He also likes his song "Nashville". He explained that sometimes a song sounds great the way the band plays it the first time and then sometimes it is hard to re-capture the way they originally played it; this is what happened with the song "Nashville" when they played it the first time.
Ever since 20th Century Fox's film, "Walk the Line" came into the theatres across the nation; Johnny Cash gained more popularity especially those who weren't fond of country music. However, Chris Patterson has always loved Cash's music, especially, "Folsom Prison Blues", which his band does a minor-key version of.
Chris told me that his wife liked the movie more than he did. He also said, "I was hoping for more of a story on the music of the late Cash, instead of a story on his love-life." Now, that's a reaction of a true musician.
The band is just "taking things as they come," he says. In a few years he hopes their audience will grow more and more. The future of the band looks very promising. Even though as Patterson puts it, "We all have our day jobs, and if something big happens it happens." "All of us are pretty grounded."