The Farmer & Adele Bring A Modern Twist To Western Swing Music In Nashville
Classic meets modern with Nashville’s The Farmer and Adele. The duo of Grace Adele and Keenan Wade are part of a community of artists keeping the spirit of the singing cowboy and the great Bob Wills alive with their spin on western swing music. The Farmer and Adele record classics from the era as well as original songs in the same style. They were named Best Western Swing Group at the 2020 Ameripolitan awards, have frequently been the house band warming up audiences at the Grand Ole Opry, have a regular monthly show at the Station Inn and host their own radio show, “On The Trail with The Farmer & Adele”. I recently asked Farmer Keenan and Adele about bringing this music to a young new audience, their new original song, “Open Door” and playing at the legendary Station Inn.
AnaLee: Howdy! That seemed like an appropriate greeting as we embark on this journey back to a simpler time, cowgirls and cowboys singing and riding horses. I love that era too; the films, the songs, clothes and to be honest, for me it was mostly about the horses! Tell us a little about where your love of singing cowboys and western swing music came from and how it led to The Farmer & Adele.
Farmer Keenan: Howdy AnaLee! Howdy is an excellent way to start a conversation! We also accept YIP! or WAHOO! or Hey You! - Yip! I started music when I was 13 but started playing mandolin when I was 19. I’ve always loved swing music, folk, and bluegrass so naturally I wanted to hear all those styles on the mandolin. A lot of folks told me the mandolin wasn’t a jazz instrument. I knew this wasn’t true in my heart, and YouTube didn’t exist at the time, so I kept looking for different musical styles for inspiration. When I first came to Nashville in 2002, I went to the Station Inn on Monday to hear bluegrass. The owner, JT Gray, was working the door and told me, “There’s no bluegrass tonight, only western swing.” I went to leave and JT told me he’d comp my ticket because I needed to hear this. I took a seat and when the Time Jumpers came out and played, I couldn’t move it was so musically powerful. The Time Jumpers even had a musician at this specific show playing electric mandolin! I found a musical home and absolutely fell in love. I’ve always loved Gene Autry and, to me, he is a huge influence.
Grace Adele: Yip and a Howdy as well to you AnaLee! Yip! I grew up as a ballet dancer, singer, and love classic old Hollywood movies. The music I was drawn to was Big Band, Classic Country, Folk and Bluegrass. I started writing songs and playing guitar in Columbus, OH. When I met Farmer Keenan, we shared a love of similar styles of music. I’d listen to music from the 30’s and 40’s and heard a different style of rhythm playing on the guitar. I saw The Riders In The Sky for the first time and The Time Jumpers at The Station Inn here in Nashville and Ranger Doug was playing Sock rhyme style of guitar! He was the first person I had seen live in person playing this style instead of listening to a recording. We took a trip out West, watched all the old movies and soon I had a whole new list of Western style songs I’d written. One thing led to another and you could say I had been bitten by the Western Swing bug.
AnaLee: Nashville’s Riders in The Sky is a group that’s been honoring western swing through music and comedy since 1977. They are Grand Ole Opry members and Grammy winners and a likely inspiration for you, so it must be pretty special to collaborate with Ranger Doug. Tell us about that partnership and what it means to have been welcomed by a group that was at the forefront of this musical revival.
Grace Adele: I feel grateful for the friendship we have had with The Riders over the years. We have written many songs with Ranger Doug and he has shown us wonderful chords on his guitar. This type of music is meant to be shared and passed along. It’s a small world within music so it’s wonderful when you find others who are learning about it, playing it, or just love it. The Riders In The Sky put their own stamp on the style and we are certainly inspired by them plus inspired by many other great Western groups such as the Whippoorwills, Homer & Jethro, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, and Gene Autry. We hope we are bringing our own spin on the experience of Cowboy/Cowgirl Western Swing music. It can be lonely out on the lone prairie so we all need to stick together.
AnaLee: There seems to be a current revival of this music. Rather than just repeat what’s been done and already revived even, you are writing new songs and creating current takes on old songs. Can you talk a little about bridging that generation gap between the actual old-timers and young people who are embracing this music?
Grace Adele: There is a generation gap and that is something we chat about all the time. I’m not sure how to bridge that gap. With the old-timers they might remember a movie, a song or TV show that had a Western theme. At this day in age, it might be something they remember their grandpas being into. I think the theme of the music has a spirit of experiencing nature out in the West and maybe that is something that every age group can relate to. The songs are interesting in that way and very different from other genres. We want our show to be fun and we want the music experience to be fun. We hope by entertaining and creating an experience, this will bridge the gap. It’s an honor to add our original new western songs in the mix among such beautifully crafted classic songs of the West.
AnaLee: You have another show at Nashville’s legendary Station Inn, Wednesday, September 1st. What’s playing a show on such a hallowed stage like for you? I know you did some live streaming previously, will this one be streamed as well?
Farmer Keenan: We are playing at the Station Inn on September 1 and are so excited! We play the first Wednesday of every month making it officially Western Wednesday at the Station Inn! Come on out for some Yips! and sing alongs on September 1, October 6, November 3, and our holiday show on December 22! Unfortunately, the only way to see the show is to come out in person as Station Inn TV is no more. We feel very lucky that we get to bring our “brand” of western swing music to the Station Inn where all our favorite country and bluegrass artists – like Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Time Jumpers, Dolly Parton, to Andrew Bird - have all played over the years. One of the most special places of its kind still left right here in Nashville!
AnaLee: Your latest single is an original called “Open Door” and it’s linked below. Can you tell us a little about this song and if we’ll be treated to more releases this year? Thanks for taking the time to chat and for keeping the Western Swing flame burning bright!
Farmer Keenan: Our latest single, Open Door, is our little gospel song of inspiration. Grace, Ranger Doug, and myself wrote this song about a dream one of us had. We wrote this song in about 45 minutes as it just seemed to naturally come to us. Fans have come up to us over the past few years asking if we had Open Door available on an album. With all the requests for new music and Covid really bumming folks out naturally - plus hurting the artists eco-system (shows=money=studio=publicity=new album=radio) - we felt it was time to release online singles and we’re so happy to make Open Door available online wherever good music is sold online - www.everybodylovesthefarmerandadele.com – Also, as part of our Cowfolk Code of the West: There’s no paper or plastic in the release of our new single, thus minimizing our carbon footprint; making online singles is the most environmentally friendly way to release new music – YIP!
“Moon Over Montana” featuring Ranger Doug
“Quarantine Cowgirl Blues”