THE CADILLAC THREE

THE CADILLAC THREE

The Cadillac Three

Chris Shiflett

Sat, November 2, 2019

8:00 pm

$25.00

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The Cadillac Three
The Cadillac Three
It may be a ballsy move for The Cadillac Three to name their new album LEGACY, but if any country band has
the shared history to lay claim to such a weighty title, it's the longhaired trio of Nashville natives.
Singer-guitarist Jaren Johnston, drummer Neil Mason and lap-steel player Kelby Ray have known one another
since they were teens and have been sharing stages together for nearly 15 years. This summer, they'll headline
their hometown's most famous venue, the Ryman Auditorium, just a few blocks from where Johnston and Ray
sat in high-school math class daydreaming about one day playing the legendary hall. Johnston's connection to
the Ryman goes back even further: his father has been a drummer at the Grand Ole Opry since Jaren was a
child. And now he has a son of his own, who, like his old man, will be well-versed in all the sounds that make up
both Music City and The Cadillac Three, from country and blues to rock & roll.
So, yeah, "legacy" looks good on this band.
"We're trying to build something and do it our way, which is always harder," says Johnston. "If you're going to
leave something that people are actually going to remember, you can't take the easy way. So we took all of our
history, mixed it with the energy of The Cadillac Three and put it into a record that makes sense of where we've
been and where we're going."
After nearly a full year on the road in support of 2016's BURY ME IN MY BOOTS, their first full-length album
recorded for Big Machine Records, the group returns with a more mature perspective. Johnston, Mason and Ray
have experienced a lot on tour, whether opening arenas across the country on Florida Georgia Line's Dig Your
Roots Tour or headlining their own consistently sold-out string of sweaty club and theater shows in the U.K. and
Europe. As they prepare to head back in November for another big run, for The Cadillac Three, the old saying
really is true: this band is huge overseas.
"Europe showed us that we should bet on ourselves. It was a big gamble the first time we went over there," says
Mason, "but the shows and the fans have continued to grow."
"And going overseas reinforced that we wanted to get more music out more quickly," adds Ray. "They go through
singles really quickly over there. They want more, more, more and that encouraged us to go into the studio,
knock this album out and keep going."
All that travel, from city to state, country to continent, could decimate a lesser band, but it only served to
creatively inspire the mighty TC3. They wrote many of the 11 songs that make up LEGACY on the road, cut the
tracks on rare days off in Nashville and then recorded all of Johnston's vocals – one of the most "country" voices
in the genre – in the back lounge of their bus in between shows, adding a crackling sense of vitality to LEGACY.
They also produced the album themselves.
"We knew what we wanted to do with this record. Instead of putting it together in bits and pieces, we started with
a batch of songs and then picked a single," Johnston says. "That's how this shit should be done."
That back-to-basics approach to making music yielded the band's most infectious single to date: the woozy sing-
along "Dang If We Didn't." Written, as is most of the album, by Johnston and Mason (here, with Jonathan
Singleton; other times with songwriters like Laura Veltz and Angelo Petraglia), "Dang If We Didn't" teases fans
with its ambiguous title, before revealing what the guys actually did in the chorus: get drunk last night.
"When you're a songwriter, you can be critical of song titles," says Johnston. "But with 'Dang If We Didn't,' I
thought it was a little bit mysterious. It makes you wonder, 'Dang if we didn't do what?'"
"Eat pizza last night," quips Mason. "It could be anything."
"American Slang" rivals "Dang If We Didn't" in its grandeur. It's a huge song, akin to Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" or
The Cadillac Three's own "Graffiti," off BURY ME IN MY BOOTS. Lori McKenna (Little Big Town's "Girl Crush")
began writing the tune with the intention of having The Cadillac Three finish it. "We are vampires on Hollywood


Boulevard / angels and sinners of our hometown streets," go the lyrics, painting a picture of life's rebels, before a
massive country-radio chorus kicks in: "We are the back roads, dirty water shore banks…we are born and raised
on American slang."
The constant throughout LEGACY, however, lies in the players: as on all three of The Cadillac Three's albums,
only Johnston, Mason and Ray are the musicians. There's no guest keyboard player, no second percussionist
and certainly no bassist. Ray holds down the low end on his lap steel.
Especially on the standout LEGACY track "Take Me to the Bottom," which features Johnston reaching high for a
breathtaking falsetto. "'Take Me to the Bottom' has the best bass sound of anything I've ever done," says Ray,
who also keeps things greasy on the intense "Tennessee." A thrashing love song, it evokes the stomp of ZZ Top
– a favorite of TC3 – and features a lyrical shout-out to progressive country hero Sturgill Simpson, a kindred spirit
of the band.
No matter the influence, though, the trio stays faithful to their own unique sound throughout LEGACY. "Hank &
Jesus" glides along with Tennessee twang; "Demolition Man" is distinguished by the space between the notes;
and the swaggering "Cadillacin'" is a band anthem. "We don't put anything on our albums that we can't re-create
live," says Mason. "If there is a TC3 rule, it's that: keep it honest."
Honesty, or authenticity, is a favorite buzzword around Nashville. But few artists come to it as naturally as The
Cadillac Three. These guys couldn't fake it if they tried. In the album's title track, they offer a heart-on-the-sleeve
testimony to what's really important at the end of one's days: love and a family tree.
When Mason and Ray heard "Legacy," co-written by Johnston, they flipped, and pushed for it to be the title of the
record. "We're far enough along in our careers where doing an album called LEGACY doesn't feel presumptuous
to me," says Mason.
Not when you run through The Cadillac Three's milestones. It's all there, from boundary-pushing albums,
Grammy-nominated No. 1 songwriting across genres and fan-favorite singles to sold-out club shows and massive
festival gigs alongside Aerosmith.
"With this album, we're continuing to build this thing we've created. We're touring nonstop, headlining shows in
the U.K., playing the Ryman, and putting out a new record," says Johnston. "Shit, that's a pretty good legacy so
far."
Chris Shiflett
Chris Shiflett
Chris Shiflett had just wrapped up another batch of worldwide Foo Fighter tour dates, when his plane touched down in Nashville. He'd been on the road for months. Off- stage, he'd been writing new music of his own — music that looked not only to his rock & roll roots for inspiration, but also to the old-school country music of Merle Hag- gard and Buck Owens. The time had come to record another solo record, which is how Shiflett found himself back in Nashville, tracking his new songs with producer Dave Cobb in the same historic studio — RCA Studio A — where he'd created 2017's West Coast Town.
Hard Lessons, Shiflett's newest album, is a raw blast of Telecaster twang and guitar-driven bang, driven home by autobiographical songwriting and muscular guitar work. Like West Coast Town, it plants its boots on both sides of the country/rock di- vide, mixing songs about honky-tonk heartache and small-town roots with the urgent sound of overdriven guitars, the epic screech of Marshall tube amplifiers, and raw chemistry of a live-in-the-studio band.
There's the bar-band bombast of "Liar's Word." The noisy, chest-beating stomp of "This Ol' World." The funky Texas boogie of "Marfa on my Mind." The supersized country shuffle of "The One You Go Home To," Shiflett's old-school duet with Elizabeth Cook. Together, those songs help build a louder, livelier record than Shiflett's earlier work, creating a bridge between his longtime day job as lead guitarist for modern rock's biggest band and the acclaimed, Americana-influenced solo projects that have kept him doubly busy for nearly a decade.
Raised alongside the California coastline in Santa Barbara, Shiflett kicked off his career in seminal pop-punk groups like No Use For a Name and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. As the '90s gave way to the 2000s, he joined the Foo Fighters' line- up. He's since become one of the band's longest-running members, flying the flag of modern rock & roll for two decades. Along the way, he's also become the host of a bi- weekly Americana podcast, Walking the Floor, as well as the driving force behind solo projects like Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants. Hard Lessons follows West Coast Town as the second solo record to bear his name alone, and it's perhaps the most Shi- flett-sounding album in his entire catalog, with songs that nod to the classic Ba- kersfield sound one minute and Keith Richards' greasy guitar style the next.
Recorded between Foo Fighters tours, Hard Lessons reunites Shiflett with Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb, who also oversaw the tracking sessions for West Coast Town. It was Cobb's idea to track down a Marshall JCM800, a vintage gui- tar amp that became a popular piece of gear during the 1980s' hard rock scene. Plug- ging his Telecaster Deluxe and Les Paul Gold Top into that amplifier added a heavy dose of grit to Shiflett's material, which he'd written while touring and during songwrit- ing sessions with co-writers like Elizabeth Cook, Brian Whelan, Kendell Marvel, and Aaron Raitiere. In the studio, he followed Cobb's usual practice of recording the basic tracks in a series of live takes without a click track, with the entire studio band — in- cluding Cobb on acoustic guitar, drummer Chris Powell and bassist Brian Allen — play- ing at once. Pedal steel legend Paul Franklin, keyboardist Mike Webb, and harmony vocalist Kristen Rogers all chipped in during the overdub stage. The result is an album that's loud, immediate, and natural-sounding.
Hard Lessons is Chris Shiflett's most vital album to date — a record that blurs the boundaries between country and rock & roll, shining a light once again not only on Shiflett's guitar work, but his fiery abilities as a frontman and songwriter, as well.
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change