Steeldrivers
  • Americana / Bluegrass
  • Location:
    AMERICA NORTH: USA:Tennessee (TN)
  • Record Label:
    Rounder Records
  • Website:
  • AirPlay Direct Link:
    AirPlayDirect.com/Steeldrivers
Click on a track to play
0:00
  • The Reckless Side Of Me
    Genre: Americana
    MP3 (03:14) [7.41 MB]
  • Good Corn Liquor
    Genre: Americana
    MP3 (03:45) [8.57 MB]
  • Where Rainbows Never Die
    Genre: Americana
    MP3 (03:55) [8.96 MB]
  • The Price
    Genre: Americana
    MP3 (04:14) [9.7 MB]
  • Can You Run
    Genre: Americana
    MP3 (04:59) [11.42 MB]
  • Peacemaker
    Genre: Americana
    MP3 (04:04) [9.29 MB]
  • You Put The Hurt On Me
    Genre: Americana
    MP3 (03:47) [8.65 MB]
  • Midnight On The Mountain
    Genre: Americana
    MP3 (02:43) [6.21 MB]
  • Guitars, Whiskey, Guns and Knives
    Genre: Americana
    MP3 (02:36) [5.96 MB]
  • Angel Of The Night
    Genre: Americana
    MP3 (04:04) [9.29 MB]
  • Higher Than The Wall
    Genre: Americana
    MP3 (03:50) [8.76 MB]
  • Ghosts Of Mississippi
    Genre: Americana
    MP3 (06:17) [14.36 MB]
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Biography
More available at Rounder Label Group

Nashville, Tennessee is a nexus – a point where tradition and innovation intersect, where commerce collides with art. It may be the only town around where salaried songwriters and full-time session musicians are as common as accountants and schoolteachers. Music is the product, and the factories line the street, from the swank Music Row mini-high-rises to the low-slung Sylvain Park bungalows. And only Nashville could give birth to a band like the SteelDrivers: a group of seasoned veterans – each distinguished in his or her own right, each valued in the town’s commercial community – who are seizing an opportunity to follow their hearts to their souls’ reward. In doing so, they are braiding their bluegrass roots with new threads of their own design, bringing together country, soul, and other contemporary influences to create an unapologetic hybrid that is old as the hills but fresh as the morning dew. This is new music with the old feeling. SteelDrivers fan Vince Gill describes the band’s fusion as simply “an incredible combination.”

The SteelDrivers’ brand of bluegrass – intense, dark, poetic, and inescapably human – is a refreshing reminder of the timeless power of string band music, and is captured perfectly on Reckless. Produced by Luke Wooten along with the SteelDrivers, the album captures all of the rare elements that come together when they play: the intense vocals of Chris Stapleton, the song-crafting excellence of Stapleton and Mike Henderson, the versatility of Richard Bailey on banjo, the spot-on harmonies provided by fiddler Tammy Rodgers and bassist, Mike Fleming, and the impeccable musicianship all of the band members bring to their roles in the band.

Tammy Rogers’ fiddle and Richard Bailey’s banjo kick off “The Reckless Side of Me,” establishing Reckless' place in the bluegrass genre, but it’s not long before Chris Stapleton’s vocals soulfully lead the way into the place just beyond bluegrass where The SteelDrivers dwell. The groove the band sets for “Good Corn Liquor” transports the listener to the backwoods of Appalachia. The introspective “Where Rainbows Never Die” follows, with its poetic evocation of aging and salvation.

“The Price” provides a perfect showcase for Chris Stapleton’s voice, as his reading of the song builds to an emotional zenith directed at the injustice of the world. “Can You Run,” sung from the point of view of a slave is a call to freedom, no matter the cost. An unusual perspective is offered in “Peacemaker” where a gun questions its ironic name. “You Put the Hurt on Me,” sung definitively by Stapleton, is the kind of classic country song you could also imagine George Jones singing, with lines like "I never had a memory cut - a path as wide as yours."

The high lonesome sound of “Midnight on the Mountain” features some stellar 3-part harmony by Stapleton, Rogers, and bassist Mike Fleming, as all of the natural elements conspire against a forlorn lover – the wind, the rain and "the chill in the pines." A cautionary tale, “Guitars, Whiskey, Guns and Knives” warns of the dangers of the country music lifestyle. “Angel of the Night” provides plenty of space for fiddle, banjo, and mandolin, and features a chorus that soars along with the pleading vocal. The blues-inflected country of “Higher than the Wall” paves the way for the album’s closer “Ghosts of Mississippi” where the blues take control.
In the hands of The SteelDrivers, the transition from bluegrass to blues is perfectly natural. 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.

The SteelDrivers are:

Richard Bailey - Banjo

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.

Mike Fleming - Bass/Vocals

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.

Mike Henderson - Mandolin/Vocals

Mike Henderson is a veteran songwriter and award-winning musician, with several solo albums on both RCA and Dead Reckoning to his credit. He has recorded with such artists as Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Mark Knopfler, Albert King, Hank Williams, Jr., Johnny Lang, Peter Rowan, Guy Clark, John Hiatt, Sting, Delbert McClinton, Bob Seger, Bo Diddley, Faith Hill, Lucinda Williams, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and many others. His songs have been recorded by the Dixie Chicks, Kenny Rogers, Daryl Worley, Patty Loveless, Trisha Yearwood, Travis Tritt, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Solomon Burke, Marty Stuart, Gary Allan, and Randy Travis.

Tammy Rogers - Fiddle/Vocals

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.

Chris Stapleton - Guitar/Vocals

A rising star on the Nashville scene, Chris Stapleton is a Paintsville, Kentucky native whose powerful “sandpaper to silk” voice gives the SteelDrivers their distinctive sound. He has recorded with Daryl Worley, Gary Allan, Lee Ann Womack, Trent Wilmon, James Otto, and others, while as a songwriter his compositions have been covered by Tim McGraw, Brooks and Dunn, Julie Roberts, Daryl Worley, Trent Wilmon, Gary Allan, Patty Loveless, Brad Paisley, Trace Adkins, Lee Ann Womack, Montgomery Gentry, and the Lonesome River Band. He recently scored a number one singles as the writer of “Your Man,” recorded by Josh Turner and Kenny Chesney’s “Never Wanted Nothing More.”

The SteelDrivers
Reckless
Street Date: September 14, 2010

1. The Reckless Side of Me
2. Good Corn Liquor
3. Where Rainbows Never Die
4. The Price
5. Can You Run
6. Peacemaker
7. You Put the Hurt on Me
8. Midnight on the Mountain
9. Guitars, Whiskey, Guns and Knives
10. Angel of the Night
11. Higher than the Wall
12. Ghosts of Mississippi

The Reckless Side of Me
(Chris Stapleton, Mike Henderson – Sea Gayle Music, ASCAP/Son of a Miner Songs, ASCAP/Irving Music, BMI/Chicken Shack Songs, BMI)

Good Corn Liquor
(Chris Stapleton, Ronnie Bowman – House of Sea Gayle Music, ASCAP/New Son of a Miner Songs, ASCAP/Sony/ATV Tree, BMI)

Where Rainbows Never Die
(Chris Stapleton, Mike Henderson – New Sea Gayle Music, ASCAP/Son of a Miner Songs, ASCAP/Irving Music, BMI/Chicken Shack Songs, BMI)

The Price
(Chris Stapleton, Mike Henderson – House of Sea Gayle Music, ASCAP/New Son of a Miner Songs, ASCAP/Straight Six Music, BMI)

Can You Run
(Chris Stapleton, Mike Henderson – New Sea Gayle Music, ASCAP/Son of a Miner Songs, ASCAP/Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., BMI/Five Window Music, BMI)

Peacemaker
(Chris Stapleton, Mike Henderson – New Sea Gayle Music, ASCAP/Son of a Miner Songs, ASCAP/Irving Music, BMI/Chicken Shack Songs, BMI)

You Put the Hurt on Me
(Chris Stapleton, Mike Henderson – New Sea Gayle Music, ASCAP/Son of a Miner Songs, ASCAP/Irving Music, BMI/Chicken Shack Songs, BMI)

Midnight on the Mountain
(Chris Stapleton, Mike Henderson – House of Sea Gayle Music, ASCAP/New Son of a Miner Songs, ASCAP/Irving Music, BMI/Chicken Shack Songs, BMI)

Guitars, Whiskey, Guns and Knives
(Chris Stapleton, Mike Henderson – House of Sea Gayle Music, ASCAP/New Son of a Miner Songs, ASCAP/Irving Music, BMI/Chicken Shack Songs, BMI)

Angel of the Night
(Chris Stapleton, Mike Henderson – New Sea Gayle Music, ASCAP/Son of a Miner Songs, ASCAP/Sony/ATV Tree Publishing, BMI/Songs of Diver Dann Music, BMI)

Higher than the Wall
(Chris Stapleton, Mike Henderson – Sea Gayle Music, ASCAP/Son of a Miner Songs, ASCAP/Irving Music, BMI/Chicken Shack Songs, BMI)

Ghosts of Mississippi
(Chris Stapleton, Mike Henderson – House of Sea Gayle Music, ASCAP/New Son of a Miner Songs, ASCAP/Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., BMI/Five Window Music, BMI)

Front cover photograph by Scott Billington
All other photography by Mickey Dobo
Design by Rachael E. Sullivan


Richard Bailey - banjo

Mike Fleming – bass, vocals

Mike Henderson – mandolin, resophonic guitar, harmonica

Tammy Rogers – fiddle, viola, vocals

Chris Stapleton – guitar, foot stomp, vocals


Produced by Luke Wooten and The SteelDrivers

Recorded by Luke Wooten at Oceanway Nashville

Mixed and mastered by Luke Wooten at West/Wing/Station West

P J French - Assistant Engineer

Donna Winklmann - Production Assistant

Liner notes by Larry Nager


The SteelDrivers would like to thank their friends and families for their support and encouragement.

Special thanks to: The Station Inn (Ann, Lynn, and JT), Paradigm (Bobby and Josh), The Press Network (Lisa Shively), Matthew Rey, Janet Henderson (SteelDrivers Website and books), Mandy Bailey (mySpace Website and newsletter), Orville Almon, Dan Keen, Mike Sistad, Chris Latham, Ron Kimbro, D'Addario Strings, Elixer Strings, Gibson Instruments and Strings, Republic Guitars, EMD Music, Grand Ole Opry, the Festivals and of course our Fans.


It’s a long way from Jerusalem Ridge to the Mississippi Delta, but the shortest distance between the two is a ride with The SteelDrivers. Not since Bill Monroe blended “the old Southern blues” with Scotch-Irish ballads and breakdowns has a bluegrass band distilled such a potent brew.

Reckless is the next step beyond their self-titled 2008 Rounder debut. Like the band itself, that CD obliterated boundaries, earning unanimous raves and recognition from the worlds of bluegrass (2008 IBMA Emerging Artist, Album and Song nominations; 2009 IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year winner), Americana (2009 AMA Emerging Artist of the Year nomination) and even mainstream country (2009 GRAMMY® nomination for Best Country Performance By a Duo or Group). They hit the road hard, from the Grand Ole Opry to Bonnaroo. But their return to the studio raised the inevitable question - could they do it again?

Fear not. Reckless doubles down on everything that made The SteelDrivers so good. After two years of touring, they’ve delivered a dozen great songs sung and played with scorched-earth passion by a road-tested band.

When bluegrass lovers rhapsodize about why “the good old days” were so good, one reason given is that those first-generation bands sounded completely different from one another. That’s rare in today’s homogenized, electronically-tuned world. But nobody – nobody - sounds like The SteelDrivers.

The first thing that hits you is the voice of Chris Stapleton. It’s a lower lonesome sound, downhome as Vienna sausages and soda crackers, but informed by deep soul and Southern rock from Ray Charles to Skynyrd.

The architect of The SteelDrivers is Mike Henderson, a man deep in the blues and bluegrass worlds. In the ’90s, he earned a reputation as a down-and-dirty electric blues guitarist with his Bluebloods band, and every Monday night The SteelDrivers aren’t traveling, he fronts a blues band at Nashville’s Bluebird Café. His bluegrass roots go back to the teenaged guitarist playing behind fiddlers in his native Missouri. Henderson’s mandolin is determinedly old-school Monroe, but he also puts the “steel” in SteelDrivers with bottleneck National guitar.

That bluegrass/blues fusion, combined with those Henderson/Stapleton songs, makes The SteelDrivers unique. Part of Nashville’s huge songwriter community, Henderson has written for the Dixie Chicks and Patty Loveless (as well as Solomon Burke), while Stapleton’s had No. 1s with Josh Turner (“Your Man”) and Kenny Chesney (“Never Wanted Nothing More”). The SteelDrivers’ songwriting was one reason Rounder’s Ken Irwin signed them after their 2007 IBMA showcase. “I was surprised that some of my favorite songs didn’t make the first record,” he told me the night of their IBMA win. “It was just astounding to me that songs that most other groups would kill for didn’t make the record.”

Some of them are here, including “Peacemaker,” “Higher Than the Wall” and “You Put the Hurt on Me,” also on their self-released Live From the Station Inn (2006).

Onstage and in the studio, The SteelDrivers’ secret weapon is Tammy Rogers, whose voice and fiddle have backed Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood and Patty Loveless. She always adds exactly what’s needed. For the old-timey “Good Corn Liquor,” she nails that dry, woody Appalachian fiddle tone. On “Rainbows,” she’s a celestial choir of soaring violins. And she lights up “Angel of the Night,” like a fiddlin’ Hendrix.

Maybe it was growing up in Memphis and doing sessions with soul great Al Green and Chet Atkins, but Richard Bailey is that rarest of banjo pickers – he plays songs, not interchangeable licks. Profiled by Tony Trischka and Peter Wernick in Masters of the 5-String Banjo, Bailey can drive it hard, but he’s there to serve the song, not just impress other pickers.

Mike Fleming’s solid upright bass and fluent baritone vocals complete the band. He keeps things from getting too reckless, his unerring pulse steering The SteelDrivers straight down the road.

Impressive resumes aside, The SteelDrivers are fairly new, born in 2005 at informal sessions at Henderson’s house. Everyone had other gigs; this one just had the best chemistry and most fun. That’s another reason The SteelDrivers make such a great band; their obvious excitement playing together, combined with the deep skill-sets of seasoned musicians.

“The Reckless Side of Me” sets the tone, an uptempo tune about hard choices: “There’s two angels sitting on my shoulder. All they ever do is disagree. One sits on the side of rhyme and reason, the other’s on the reckless side of me.”

If there’s a Reckless theme, it’s those choices. The people in these songs are facing personal crossroads, making life-changing decisions. This being bluegrass, you can bet they won’t make smart ones. From “Knoxville Girl” to Tom T. Hall’s “Turn It On Turn It On,” bad choices make the best bluegrass. As Henderson jokes at SteelDrivers shows, “Welcome to the uneasy listening portion of the evening, where bad things happen to good people.”

“Good Corn Liquor,” co-written by Chris and Ronnie Bowman, takes the perspective of a boy whose father’s bad choice was taking the Appalachian unemployment safety net – moonshine running– and winding up at the wrong end of a sheriff’s gun.

“Where Rainbows Never Die” has a relatively happy ending, an old man peacefully coming to journey’s end, “west of where the sun sets, where rainbows never die.”

“The Price” is back in dangerous territory, Stapleton unleashing his most anguished vocals in the realization that even the bad choices aren’t always up to us. “Rich man rolls the dice. Poor boy pays the price.”

“Can You Run” is set in the Civil War, as a slave reaches his crossroads, watching Northern troops advance, as he and his wife risk escape to “the freedom line of Lincoln’s soldiers. Where contraband can be a man, with a musket on his shoulder.”

Unexpected points of view are a SteelDrivers trademark. “Sticks That Make Thunder,” from The SteelDrivers, looked at war from a tree’s POV. Here, it’s a pistol, but “Peacemaker” is a reluctant killing machine. “If I don’t deserve the credit, why do I deserve the blame?”

As you’d expect from a city where heartbreak is a major economic driver, The SteelDrivers do serious damage with lost-love ballads. Take “You Put the Hurt On Me”: “The flames have turned to ashes, but there’s still some embers left. Missing you is harder than this whiskey on my breath.”

“Midnight on the Mountain” is in traditional bluegrass style, a lonesome waltz recalling 1950s Monroe.

From its title, “Guitars, Whiskey, Guns and Knives” could be Eastern Kentucky’s “My Favorite Things.” Instead, it’s a cautionary tale detailing “four good ways to wreck your life.”

“Angel of the Night,” a highlight of SteelDriver shows, gives Rogers, Bailey and Henderson extra instrumental space.

Reckless finishes with a one-two punch. “Higher Than the Wall” is a whiskey-soaked ballad that sounds like Waylon Jennings fronting the Stanley Brothers. “Ghost of Mississippi” ends Reckless at the Delta crossroads of Highways 61 and 49, where Satan trades blues chops for souls. Over a pile-driving thump punctuated by Henderson’s stabbing National steel and harmonica, the chanted chorus sounds like a Parchman Farm holler: “Oh Lord, why have you forsaken me. Got me down in Mississippi, where I don’t wanna be.”

From the Old Homeplace to the Home of the Blues in record time. Sit back, strap in, pour some “good corn liquor” or “a shot of brown” and take this Reckless ride. Don’t worry about the GPS. The SteelDrivers know the way.

- Nashville-based writer/filmmaker/musician Larry Nager is author of Memphis Beat (St. Martin’s) and writer/co-producer of Bill Monroe: Father of Bluegrass Music. He plays upright bass on Rounder 0154, The Allen Brothers’ Clara’s Boys (1982).
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  • AirPlay Direct Member Since:
    08/18/10
  • Profile Last Updated:
    10/28/16 15:22:03

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