A Conversation with Shaw Wilson of BR549
Puremusic: Well, Shaw, thanks so much for taking my call and making your call today, because I know it's been hard to connect. [We'd had the cell phone blues, in several locales over several days, and were now both back in Nashville.]
Shaw Wilson: Hey, we all like to do our part. What are you going to do? I go on the road and my phone goes out. And then I lost my voice and it's sort of coming back.
PM: Did you lose it doing this kind of thing or just traveling around?
SW: We think there was something in the air system on the bus, because Chuck lost his voice in D.C., and Goeff, our bass player, lost his voice a couple days later. His was just totally gone, he couldn't talk at all. And Goeff is about like I am right now, but I can't sing for nothing. I've had it like this for about four days. That seems to be about what it takes to run its course. So I got some Throat Coat tea and stuff like that, but... It'll come back.
PM: That stuff is pretty amazing. But yeah, you sound really rough. And you're a very singing drummer--I mean, you sing a lot in the show and on the record.
PM: Like a lot of the fans, I was very happy when I heard the new CD. I thought you guys really nailed it to the wall on Tangled in the Pines. That's a fantastic record.
SW: Well, the review today in the Nashville paper, The Tennessean, gave us four out of four.
PM: Wow, great. It must also feel very invigorating, after all that's happened so far, to have turned out the first disc of all original tunes, right?
SW: Yeah, it's all retrospect at this point, all that we went through just to get a record out. And believe me, it was a lot, and it still is a lot, so to be accepted really doesn't even cover the feeling. It just seems we're being accepted again in a very big way.
SW: Yeah, I guess, yeah. I should say, since you used the word embraced, this Mavericks tour that we were doing was getting stronger every night, and we were exposed to a lot of Mavericks fans who didn't know who we were. We had forty-five minutes to hit it and quit it. And you could just see it on their faces from the first song. We just totally knocked them out--because that's what we're there to do. And that makes you feel--I mean, it's just so immediate, it really makes you feel like you're doing it for a reason, because we are. And I'm not exactly sure what that reason is...
SW: Except that we just love playing music and living this crazy life. And I guess it shows, and it's audible on record and live.
PM: You sure can tell when it's in somebody's blood.
PM: And yeah, these Mavericks shows have got to be really fun. Speaking of the Mavericks, that's a terrific lead off song, "That's What I Get," that Chuck wrote with Raul Malo [lead singer of The Mavericks].
PM: I assume that's the single, right?
SW: It sure is.
PM: How's the action on that song been?
SW: Well, I spent four hours on the phone in New York City, calling radio stations that are playing us, to thank them. And Donnie did the same thing the day before, and Chuck did the same thing the day before that, and that probably wasn't even a complete list.
PM: Wow. That's so where it's at, that you guys actually do that.
SW: Oh, you got to. You meet some crazy people, that's for sure. I met this old boy--just over the phone--but he's down in Alabama, and what a character. And they're all different, kind of like people are.
PM: And like DJs are.
SW: Well, yeah, these are the DJs, and it was just a direct howdy to them. And they'd either put it on disc for a show tomorrow or I'd do it live, or whatever. It's just part of what we do.
PM: That's beautiful. Free Country Radio, as you might call it, must be thrilled to see another CD out of BR549, right?
SW: Yeah. I mean, they're all playing it because they find they've got a place for it. We were number two on Americana Radio, behind the Flatlanders, and it's kind of hard to dethrone those old boys because they've been doing it a long time, and I've always been a fan of all of them, even when they were--Joey would be doing his thing, Butch Hancock doing his thing. And we've done shows with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and he's a nut. It's great to be in that company of people, because we feel like we've been neighbors all these years, even though we all live in different states, but we do the same thing. So when you see people on the road, it's like, "I haven't seen you in years, how you been?"
PM: So in the Mavericks shows, Raul didn't come out and sing that song with Chuck, did he, or anything like that?
SW: He talked about it, but it didn't happen. I don't know why, we didn't really bust his balls about it. But what we did do is at the end of the night come out and do a couple songs with the Mavericks. And then it turned into like three songs, and then about five songs, and forty-five minutes later, we're still on stage with them.
PM: [laughs] Oh, really?
SW: Yeah, it was just great. We'd do "All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down," and then they'd add a song, like we'd do "Jambalaya," and then, "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down."
PM: Great songs.
SW: Yeah. And just throwing it out there, so it's like an eleven-person band--it's not really a jam, because we'd just do the song, and everybody gets a solo. So it goes on a little bit longer, but it's just basically sing a song and do the next one.
PM: Just a super band, yeah.
SW: And people love it, because we're having so much fun, and that shows. We're all happy and doing exactly what we're there to do.
PM: And the audience knows, when they see two bands combining, that they're in kind of a jam situation and think, "Hey, I'm seeing something special. This is not right off the set list. They're having a good time, and I'm here to see it."
SW: Oh yeah. continue