New Cosmic Southern Soul From King Corduroy
The king of cosmic southern soul and country cool, King Corduroy will be teasing us with singles into 2022 when a new album is expected. King Corduroy’s been back to Muscle Shoals for the new album, we’ll find out a little about that and about these three songs he’ll be parsing out over the next few months. The first one is a reimagined version of a song originally released on 2014’s Livin’ On Nashville Time. When I first heard King Corduroy a couple of years back, I was immediately drawn in to his mix of styles and sounds that reminded me of a combination of Dr. John and Leon Russell with some swampy swagger and gospel-like background vocals and Corduroy’s Southern drawl, perfectly suited for the tales he tells.
AnaLee: In addition to being a compelling storyteller, one of the things I love most about King Corduroy is the live show! Typically, it’s a ten piece band with horns, strings, gospel-like backing vocals and just a real rock ‘n soul revue! I love that you were able to capture a few songs live with the full band, and the first release from that session is out now. Tell us about recording for the Under Apple Tree video series project during 2019’s Americana Fest.
Corduroy: The UTAT opportunity came via my Publicist Rachel Hurley. Whispering Bob is an iconic DJ and Host from the BBC. He has a YouTube channel where he curates live performances from Americana artists. I love watching clips of Bob’s interviews on The Old Grey Whistle Test: which he hosted from ‘72-80 airing on BBC2. Bob’s son Miles came over to the States for Americanafest in 2019 and filmed live performances from Subphonic Studios in Franklin; which is owned and operated by Lee Horrocks. Lee has an incredible setup and was able to capture the 10-piece outfit so brilliantly. I couldn’t be happier with the results and Mile’s video looks magnificent.
AnaLee: “Cosmic Blues Redux” is the first of three singles you’ll be releasing leading up to the new album next year. How did you decide on this track with so many to choose from? And can you tell us anything about the next two you’ll be releasing and when?
Corduroy: Bob requested two originals and one unique cover. I wanted to revisit “Cosmic Blues Redux” because the original version in 2014 had no backing vocals and I needed to put a new twist on the tune so I rewrote the 3rd verse to reflect where I am living now. I also gave a shout out to Jim Lauderdale and my good buddy Thom Bresh. For the cover I came up with a cool spin on Paul McCartney’s “Heart of the Country” that will drop in February.
AnaLee: I love how you tell stories in your songs about characters and situations you’ve encountered through the places you’ve lived, from your hometown of Montgomery, Alabama to Los Angeles, Austin, Todos Santos in Mexico and now Nashville. Talk a little about some of the towns you’ve called home, getting into the soul of those cities and how that informs your songwriting.
Corduroy: Well, my Dad took me to see Ray Charles with his Big Band at The Davis Theater when I was 9 and that was a life-changing experience and sparked the fire in me to want to lead a band. When I moved to Austin, I was given a deep education in Texas Blues, Soul and Texas Songwriters. I cut my teeth on stage at Antone’s, The Saxon Pub, The Continental Club, Momo’s and many other legendary clubs and learned so much from the friendly and nurturing community that was there at the time. That is also where I dug deep into Townes Van Zandt, Blaze Foley and Guy Clarke; they set the archetype for me of what a storytellin’ song should say. Then the characters I met up and down the entire state of California from Shasta all the way to the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula became fodder for my songs. I also found some deeply spiritual people in Todos Santos and Topanga Canyon; amongst other places. Nashville has been a very inspiring town and is full of so many talented players that it is the perfect place for collaborating and recording. It is all of these collective experiences, along with my obsession with record collecting that gave me the foundations of my songwriting and production style. So many hours listening to records and learning from musicians that were more experienced that helped me grow and develop my sound: “Cosmic Southern Soul”.
AnaLee: Did you really talk your way on stage at Bonnaroo in 2014 and play harmonica with Dierks Bentley? I’d love to hear that story!
Corduroy: Indeed, I went to Bonnaroo with the intent of getting on stage to play harmonica. It was an exercise in The Law of Attraction and I was able to manifest this exact goal. As a matter of fact, one of my best friends from LA named Chris Ford had the idea. I was living in Hollywood at the time and Chris had a gig as guitar tech for Billy Ray Cyrus over CMA week. He invited me along for the trip and said we could hit Bonnaroo afterwards. We showed up late Friday night and stopped at the first scalper we saw and he had two Artist badges for sale, but he wanted so much money that we needed to hit an ATM. So, we drove to a gas station and another scalper was set up with Artist Badges and VIP camping it was the Universe winking at us saying: “you got this!”. I realized that the Super Jam at the end of each day was my best bet and I set my sights on the Ed Helms All-Star Jam with the Bluegrass Situation that Sunday. I rode over to the stage on one of those golf carts and walked onto the wing of the stage where all the special guests were gathered. I posted up next to the setlist to see what song might be a good option and then struck up a conversation with one of the members of the house band. I offered to smoke them out and we went back to the artist trailer. I had my harp case on me and when I opened it up some people were all hangin’ and they were like: “oh you play harmonica?”, so I started blowin’ on the harp and people were diggin’ it. So, I just put it out there: “I came to Bonnaroo to get on stage can you make it happen?”. First, they said: “you’re crazy but lemme see what I can do”. I was told to wait, so I waited and then I was told if this guy says you can get on stage, then you're good to go. I followed behind and was escorted directly to Ed Helms and he just stuck out his hand saying: “Good Luck!”. I was ushered to the wing of the stage and they said: "you're on next!" and there I was standing next to Dierks Bentley. The band knew I wasn’t supposed to be up there so they were eggin’ me on to take fills, but a bunch of heavyweights were on stage including Brent Mason so I didn’t wanna step on anyone’s toes. Then Dierks called out for a harp solo and the crowd roared... it was magical and the most people I have performed in front of to date. I didn’t realize until a couple years ago that The Bluegrass Situation uploaded the performance on their YouTube channel.
AnaLee: There are two musicians in your band that have been constants in the King Corduroy journey. Kaleb “Junior” Patterson who plays lead guitar and fiddler/string arranger, Dayna Bee. Tell us about them.
Corduroy: I met Junior in Hollywood giggin’ at The Piano Bar. I was playin’ an early solo slot before a band he was in and I asked him to sit in on a song and we have been playing together ever since. Junior is so committed to the journey that I convinced him to move to Nashville before ever stepping foot into Davidson County. I came down and lived out of a car and a Motel 6 for a month until I could find a place. Once I did, he signed a lease with me on a spot in Inglewood and drove across the country with all his gear and his bulldog. It’s the best move we both could have made, he is flourishing here in the Nashville community and playing with a plethora of great artists!
I met the love of my life Dayna Bee about 7 months after moving here. She was working at The Family Wash and I spotted her there one day and was smitten immediately. After a few encounters there at the Wash, I saw her at Honky Tonk night at The Legion...I told the fella I was talking to: “I’ve got a crush on that girl over there I’m gonna say hello”. I walked over and Dayna asked me to two-step and we’ve been together ever since! She is a very busy session player and a string arranger; as well as, an artist featured on a previous Liner Notes! We work together in many facets. I play guitar for her and I am often her engineer because she does remote sessions at the house. What has been incredible for my sound is that watching her arrange for other artist made me realize how strings could elevate my songs. Dayna wrote arrangements for two songs on “Workin’ for a Livin” and “The Shamrock Inn” off “Avalon Ave” and four songs on the new album I’ve been working on called: “Back to The Shoals”.
AnaLee: I included a link below for “Workin’ For A Livin’” from your last release, Avalon Avenue. I know you went back to Muscle Shoals to make this new album. Can you share any details? All new material? Band members?
Corduroy: So excited for the new record and I would love to talk about it! I am still in awe of the players that I was able to wrangle together. Like you said I recorded an EP at FAME in 2019 produced by Jimbo Hart (Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit). Jimbo introduced me to many people there in The Shoals area and that was all I needed to fall in love. Over the pandemic, Dayna was getting calls to work on a record with our good buddy and killer songwriter Brandon Jesse. I tagged along and wound up tracking some harmonica and catching the hang. The sessions were at another long-standing studio called East Avalon Recorders; it’s about two miles down from FAME which is also on Avalon Ave. The owner and engineer at East Avalon is named Charles Holloman and he knows EVERYONE in town. He is also currently revamping another legendary studio there that is next door to Muscle Shoals Sound called Widget Recording Inc. Charles was in the middle of working on some sessions with David Hood on bass and I was stoked to hear about it. David is one of The Swampers so he was a part of the original FAME house band where he recorded with the likes of Aretha Franklin (“Chain of Fools”, Wilson Pickett (“Hey Jude”), Clarence Carter and Etta James to name a few. David; along with the other Swampers, left FAME and started Muscle Shoals Sound with financial assistance from Jerry Wexler, who had a falling out with Rick Hall after the Aretha sessions and wanted to see The Swampers branch out. David played with all these mainstream artists who wanted to tap in to the sound including: Paul Simon (“Kodachrome”, “Still Crazy After All These Years”), Bob Seger (“Main Street”), Cher and Rod Stewart amongst others. Once I had David lined up, we contacted Clayton Ivey for keys. Clayton’s first session at FAME was Clarence Carter “Patches”. When the Swampers moved on, Clayton helped form Rick Hall’s next house band known as The FAME Gang. Clayton then landed a Motown contract recording: The Commodores, Marvin Gaye and then producing artists such as The Temptations. After the contract ended in 1976 Clayton later started his own studio next door to East Avalon called Wishbone and where he produced Hank Williams Jr (“Family Tradition”), Roy Orbison and even Wayne Newton to name some. Clayton told me his favorite drummer was Ed Greene who actually lives here in Nashville and is one of the most tracked drummers of all time: Hall & Oates (“Rich Girl”), Marvin Gaye (“Let’s Get it On”), Glen Campbell (“Rhinestone Cowboy”), Steely Dan (“I Got The News”) and the bulk of the Barry White hits to name a few. We also recruited The Shoals Sisters: Cindy Walker and Marie Lewey along with Angela Hacker to sing background vocals. I also pulled in Kelvin Holly who was Little Richard’s guitar player to lay down some funky guitar on a tune. The premiere session drummer of my generation in Muscle Shoals is this really talented cat named Justin Holder. Justin played drums on 3 tunes and percussion on all 10 songs. Junior came down to East Avalon and then also tracked at our home studio. I have been recording all the horns, strings and doing a whole lotta mixing here at the house. I have never been able to put this much energy into a record. Usually, it’s just a lot of pre-production and then boom in the studio for maybe three days if I’m lucky and then there you have it. With this process I went down and tracked 3 songs each day and then 4 songs on one day. Subsequently, I went back for the background vocal sessions. I was able to cut demos at the house with the vocal parts on them so that I could communicate easily with the musicians. They are all so musical that each session led to collaborative moments with the session players where they were all able to put their unique footprints into the songs. The album is all new songs with more story tellin’ and cosmic medicine. The record has some funk, some twang, some smooth R&B and even a number with a Bossa Nova groove. I am so proud of it and should have it completed by the end of the year.
Cosmic Blues Redux
Workin’ For A Livin’