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Mead plans new album for June

Monday, March 25, 2019 – Chuck Mead, once a member of BR549, will be out with a solo disc in late June.

"Close to Home" is out June 28, 2019 on Nashville independent label Plowboy Records. The 11-song release is the follow-up to Mead's first Plowboy release, 2015's "Free State Serenade." Recorded at the historic Sam Phillips Recording Studios in Memphis, the album was produced by Memphis recording engineer and producer Matt Ross-Spang.

"It's probably the least-country record I've ever made," Mead says, "but at the same time, it's really a country record."

Over the course of the late '90s and the 2000's, he recorded seven albums with BR549 and spread the gospel of neo-traditional country music around the world.

Mead subsequently released three solo albums and served as the Musical Director/Supervisor/Producer of the hit Broadway musical "Million Dollar Quartet" and the companion CMT dramatic series, "Sun Records." The time he spent in Memphis during the production of the TV series led to Mead's change of recording venue for his new album.

"I really delved into the Memphis music scene when I was living there for four months," he said. "I wanted to get as many local Memphis musicians to play in the series as possible. I got to know a lot of people in the scene, and I'd known producer Matt Ross-Spang for quite a while. When the 'Million Dollar Quartet' show was on tour, we came through Memphis a couple of times. At night, the cast would record at the original Memphis Recording Service (better known as Sun Studios) and that's where I first met Matt. He was very young but was the head engineer and really brought the old studio back into shape. I started hanging out with him, and he kept talking to me about cutting a record in Memphis."

By the time Mead was ready to record, Ross-Spang had earned a reputation as one of the top engineers and producers in the Americana and roots music scene, and had moved from Sun to Sam Phillips Recording, the Memphis studio built by Sun Records head Phillips in 1960. Ross-Spang has worked with John Prine, Jason Isbell and Margo Price. He notched the Grammy for engineering Isbell's "The Nashville Sound" and co-produced Price's debut, "Midwest Farmer's Daughter" and sophomore effort "All American Made" and engineered Prine's "The Tree of Forgiveness."

"I've recorded in some cool Nashville studios like the Quonset Hut, RCA Studio B, and The Castle," Mead said. "But there was something almost supernatural about working at Phillips. You could feel Sam's spirit."

"Matt wanted me to make a bigger record," Mead said, "something that was out of my box, and I was all for it. So I turned it over to him and he took things in a direction I didn't foresee."

The opening song, the hillbilly rocker "Big Bear in the Sky," is "Johnny Horton fronting the Sonics," according to Mead.

"The song is based on a Miꞌkmaq Indian folk legend about the Ursa Major constellation," Mead said. "I wanted it to be a Johnny Horton-style history ballad. I had recorded an earlier version for an anniversary album for the German reissue label Bear Family Records, but it wasn't quite where I wanted it. I wanted to rock it out in the studio and Matt pushed me to take it to an entirely new level."

"I really wanted to make a record that was a little bit different from what I had been doing," Mead said. "Looking back, I really have done that on every record I've made, because why make the same record every time?"

More news for Chuck Mead

CD reviews for Chuck Mead

Close to Home CD review - Close to Home
Honky tonker Chuck Mead, former leader of the neo-traditionalists BR-549, steps out once again for his fourth solo effort, this one recorded in Memphis under acclaimed and current "go-to" roots producer/engineer Matt Ross-Spang. "Close to Home" was recorded at the historic Sam Phillips Recording Studios and marries country with vintage rock n' roll. Of course, Mead's been doing that for the better part of 25 years, but this one has that Sun Records Memphis flavor, »»»
Free State Serenade CD review - Free State Serenade
Chuck Mead, best known for his successful start with BR549, takes us back to his home state of Kansas for a vivid look at what formed his mind and imagination as he grew up here. "Free State Serenade" opens the eyes of the listener to a wild eventful ride of good, bad, mixed in with some sad and downright crazy. Mead rips through 12 songs here, mixing up his rockabilly, "A Short Goodbye" telling the story about leaving home to head out on his own, the western swing of »»»
Back at the Quonset Hut CD review - Back at the Quonset Hut
Former BR549 member Chuck Mead's latest collection of country classics was recorded at the Quonset Hut, the legendary Nashville studio founded by Owen Bradley. Mead is at his best on up-tempo tracks such as Johnny Horton's Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor , Del Reeves' Girl On The Billboard and Hank Williams' Settin' The Woods On Fire. Mead's rockabilly influence is on display with nicely done covers of Carl Perkins' Cat Clothes and Gene Vincent's Be Bop A Lula. »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: The Lil Smokies provide the perfect antidote – On a night when the world to be falling further apart thanks to coronavirus (this would be the night the NBA postponed the season), there stood The Lil Smokies to at least in some small measure save the day. The quintet is part of a generation of musicians with bluegrass as the basis, but not totally the sum of the music either.... »»»
Concert Review: White makes the case for himself, no matter how dark the music – John Paul White opined with a glint in his eyes that his songs were not of the uplifting variety. In fact, they were downright dark. How else to explain "The Long Way" with the line "long way home back to you." Or "James," a song inspired by his grandfather who suffered from dementia. But lest you think that the Alabama... »»»
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