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Whiskey Myers brings its Southern country rock sound to McGrath Amphitheatre in Cedar Rapids
Jun. 2, 2022 4:16 am
From the first notes of the song “Tornillo,” which opens the new album of the same name that Whiskey Myers will release on July 29, it’s apparent that some new musical twists are in store from the veteran band, coming to the McGrath Amphitheatre in Cedar Rapids on June 8.
Horn parts straight out of a spaghetti western open the song, before it segues into “John Wayne” and the kind of crunchy mix of rock and country that has come to define the Whiskey Myers sound. And on several of the other songs — most notably on the aforementioned “John Wayne,” “Antioch,” “Feet’s” and “Mission to Mars” — robust horn lines and female backing vocals bring new dimensions without altering the core sound of the band.
If you go
What: Whiskey Myers, with Shane Smith and The Saints, and 49 Winchester opening
Where: McGrath Amphitheatre, 475 First St. SW, Cedar Rapids
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 8, 2022, rain or shine; food court opens 4 p.m., gates open 5 p.m.
Tickets: $35 to $65, creventslive.com/events/2021/whiskey-myers
Seating: Chair provided in reserved seating; general admission pit is standing room only, no chairs or blankets; general admission lawn bring blankets and chairs
Band’s website: whiskeymyers.com/
But don’t assume that the additional instrumentation and vocals were some big calculated move.
“We never really do that much thinking about it. Usually we just go in and make a record,” Cody Cannon, Whiskey Myers’ frontman and main songwriter, explained in a late-April phone interview. “This time, it was a little bit different. We’d been wanting to do horns for a while. I guess during the writing process, I was hearing like horns and stuff behind certain sounds. It was in the back of my mind. So I guess that was different this time. We try not to put that much thought into it, trying to find the perfect sound. But I knew on this record I didn’t want to do the same thing. I wanted to do something different.”
That rather spontaneous approach to making music has served Whiskey Myers well throughout a career that now stretches back 15 years and six albums.
Formed in 2007 in Palestine, Texas, the band — singer/guitarist Cannon, guitarist John Jeffers, guitarist Cody Tate, drummer Jeff Hogg and bassist Gary Brown (replaced in 2017 by Jamey Gleaves) — wasted little time getting their career started. In 2008, Whiskey Myers released its debut album, “Road of Life,” and began playing shows in Dallas and on the Texas red dirt country scene.
As subsequent albums were released — “Firewater” in 2011, “Early Morning Shakes” in 2014 and “Mud” in 2016 — the band expanded its tours beyond Texas, playing shows across the United States as its grassroots following grew and the band racked up positive reviews for its brawny mix of rock and country.
Then in 2018, Whiskey Myers’ career took a significant upturn when several of the band’s songs were used in the first season of the hit television series “Yellowstone” and the band did a cameo in the fourth episode of season one.
At the time, Cannon said, he and his bandmates didn’t think a whole lot about their involvement in “Yellowstone,” but he now realizes what a major moment it was.
“Just us being an independent band and never really trying to write radio songs or take them to radio in any certain way, we had never had a platform to reach millions of people like that at once, just like hey, in your face, here we are,” Cannon said. “That was the first time we ever had that happen, a platform like that to reach those people.”
Almost immediately, album sales, streams and crowd sizes at Whisky Myers concerts took a jump. When the band’s self-titled fifth album arrived in September 2019, it topped “Billboard” magazine’s country album chart and No. 6 on the magazine’s all-genre “Billboard 200” album chart. The band went into the pandemic-forced break from activity more popular than ever.
Now comes “Tornillo,” and the band is poised to reach an even larger audience. Like the self-titled album, “Tornillo” was self produced by the band, which is fitting for a band that’s been an independent act from day one.
Cannon said going the do-it-yourself route seemed like the only viable option for Whiskey Myers, and having turned down overtures from labels in the past, he doesn’t foresee a scenario where the band would benefit from signing a label deal.
“Honestly I don’t want a f***ing boss. It’s like why wouldn’t you do it yourself and own it?” he said. “Now we’re so far into it, like hell, why would I want to do that now? I don’t want a boss. That’s what you’re essentially doing, you’re working for somebody. It’s kind of a partnership, but not really. They’re telling you what to do and giving you deadlines to make stuff. I’m not interested in that stuff at all.”
With “Tornillo” ready for release, Whiskey Myers is back on the road, but Cannon said the group will be cautious about adding songs from the new album to the set.
“We’ve kind of learned that process by trial and error,” he said. “You know, back in the day maybe you were excited to show people new material and stuff and you put four to six in the set and people just kind of stand there and look at you with a blank look because they don’t really know what’s going on. But we’ll be playing some new stuff on the tour coming up, I’m sure.”