Savannah's one of our favorite places 

If you keep up at all with the live entertainment listings here in Connect, you’ve no doubt seen numerous mentions of The Rounders over the past few years.

Since not long after their formation close to four years ago, this old-fashioned honky-tonk act from “the outskirts of Chattanooga, Tennessee” (what a great place to be from if you play this kind of music) has been something of a regular attraction at the old Velvet Elvis, and now at The Jinx, which currently occupies the same space as that sorely-missed alternative rock venue.

The band passes through town about once every two months, and according to lead guitarist and vocalist Cecil “Peewee” Moore, they’d come around more often if they could, as Savannah is one of their favorite places to play – right alongside Gadsden, Ala., and Winston-Salem, N.C.

The group is currently gearing up to release their second indie CD, which builds on the rip-snortin’ foundation of their first disc, Honkytonkabilly.

Moore says the new, as yet untitled album finds the quartet branching out a bit, but remaining true to the spirit of the group, and to their own musical background. While there will be several straight-up rockabilly tunes on this record (as well as a few traditional bluegrass numbers), it’s the outlaw country movement of the 1970s that the band of twenty-somethings hold most dear.

Moore says that despite what folks might imagine when hearing the band’s rough and tumble tales of hard luck and trouble, it’s not difficult for such young men to come up with tales of heartbreak and misery – especially ones that don’t wind up bringing the listeners down.

“That comes pretty natural for us,” he laughs by phone from the side of a road somewhere in rural Tennessee. “We grew up listenin’ to all that. Hank Williams songs... Louvin Brothers stuff... All those old artists that nobody seems to talk about anymore.”

In the few short years that they’ve been together, Moore and his guitar-playing, songwriting partner Channing Wilson, standup bassist Mike Hagaman, and their new drummer “Cowpie” have shared the stage with such alternative country greats as Alejandro Escovedo, Robert Earl Keen, and the certifiable David Allan Coe.

Here are some excerpts from our talk.

Connect Savannah: Do you all still have day jobs, or do you play music full-time?

Peewee Moore: Channing and I do it full-time. Mike, our bass player, he runs a carpet mill that’s been in his family for three generations, and Cowpie, he does odd jobs. He’s kind of a bohemian.

Connect Savannah: (laughs) That’s so wonderful to still hear someone described as a bohemian! He’s a full-time bohemian?

Peewee Moore: He’s definitely a full-time bohemian. (laughs) We make decent money so he wouldn’t starve if he didn’t have a part-time job. Our first drummer quit ‘cause he’s got three kids and a wife and he has to support ‘em all...

Connect Savannah: Well, hell, that’s a country song right there!

Peewee Moore: (laughs) Yep. You’re right.

Connect Savannah: I don’t know if he’d appreciate that, or not. (laughs)

Peewee Moore: He might not.

Connect Savannah: Was it hard to find a new drummer?

Peewee Moore: We auditioned about fifty guys. One guy used to play with Kansas!

Connect Savannah: Well, I think a lot of guys used to play with Kansas...

Peewee Moore: You’re probably right. It was just that his attitude didn’t fit right.

Connect Savannah: Did he keep trying to get you all to do “Dust In The Wind?”

Peewee Moore: Naw. He was just an old rocker. He had all these photos from his “glam days.” We wound up goin’ with Cowpie because he was just as good, but his tastes fit.

Connect Savannah: It must be close quarters in a van like that.

Peewee Moore: Well, me and Mike have Harleys, so we’ll ride ‘em to the show and let Channing and Cowpie pull the trailer.

Connect Savannah: Isn’t that hard to ride all day and play a show?

Peewee Moore:
Naw. We’re pretty tough. We can do a ten-hour drive and then go do a gig.

Connect Savannah: You play here often.

Peewee Moore: Savannah’s always been great. It’s actually one of our favorite places to play.

Connect Savannah: How come?

Peewee Moore: Well, that location has a long reputation as a hillbilly and rockabilly club. It’s a lot more metal now, but it’s still real cool.

Connect Savannah: Whiskey Dick’s gonna open up for you guys...

Peewee Moore: Aww, Tony’s hilarious. He takes care of us when we’re there. He feeds us lots of Wild Turkey. (laughs)

Connect Savannah: Where do the Rounders fit into today’s country scene?

Peewee Moore: Today’s country music is more manufactured I don’t think we’ll fit in too well with that. But, the outlaw movement’s really startin’ to come back.

Connect Savannah: If you found out you had a knack for writing pop-type songs, could you ever do mainstream country?

Peewee Moore: Actually, that’s totally against everything we stand for and believe in. That’s the Anti-Christ to us.

Connect Savannah: Most fun gig?

Peewee Moore: I don’t know if it was fun, but the one that stands out the most was when we played with David Allan Coe.

Connect Savannah: That cat’s crazy.

Peewee Moore: Oh, he is. There was this big brawl with about forty people out in the crowd. We got backstage, and they busted through the backstage door! The whole thing came crashing down, frame and everything. Then all hell broke loose.

Connect Savannah: What was it about?

Peewee Moore: I don’t know, but people left in ambulances.

Connect Savannah: How about Coe?

Peewee Moore: Aww, he got out. They cranked that bus up and he took off.

The Rounders play The Jinx Saturday night. Whiskey Dick opens the show promptly at 10 pm.


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Jim Reed

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