If you keep up at all with the liveentertainment listings here in Connect, youve 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, theyd 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), its 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 bands rough and tumble tales of hard luck and trouble, its not difficult for such young men to come up with tales of heartbreak and misery especially ones that dont 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 theyve 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 thats been in his family for three generations, and Cowpie, he does odd jobs. Hes kind of a bohemian.
Connect Savannah: (laughs) Thats so wonderful to still hear someone described as a bohemian! Hes a full-time bohemian?
Peewee Moore: Hes definitely a full-time bohemian. (laughs) We make decent money so he wouldnt starve if he didnt have a part-time job. Our first drummer quit cause hes got three kids and a wife and he has to support em all...
Connect Savannah: Well, hell, thats a country song right there!
Peewee Moore: (laughs) Yep. Youre right.
Connect Savannah: I dont know if hed 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: Youre probably right. It was just that his attitude didnt 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 well ride em to the show and let Channing and Cowpie pull the trailer.
Connect Savannah: Isnt that hard to ride all day and play a show?
Peewee Moore: Naw. Were pretty tough. We can do a ten-hour drive and then go do a gig.
Connect Savannah: You play here often.
Peewee Moore: Savannahs always been great. Its 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. Its a lot more metal now, but its still real cool.
Connect Savannah: Whiskey Dicks gonna open up for you guys...
Peewee Moore: Aww, Tonys hilarious. He takes care of us when were there. He feeds us lots of Wild Turkey. (laughs)
Connect Savannah: Where do the Rounders fit into todays country scene?
Peewee Moore: Todays country music is more manufactured I dont think well fit in too well with that. But, the outlaw movements 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, thats totally against everything we stand for and believe in. Thats the Anti-Christ to us.
Connect Savannah: Most fun gig?
Peewee Moore: I dont know if it was fun, but the one that stands out the most was when we played with David Allan Coe.
Connect Savannah: That cats 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 dont 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.