Thad Cockrell & Caitlin Cary

Ah, tonight is the outdoor show in Nashville of Country's newest and celebratable duo, Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell. When it's done correctly, the classic Country duet format is a bare and luscious enterprise for good singers. Rarely does an audience get to examine and bask in the blend and the tension between a male and female vocalist the way they do in this setting.

And these singers are old friends with strong and tender voices, capable of the great feeling that ballads require. Thad is famous for putting the "hurt" back in Country, and Caitlin first made her mark in Whiskeytown, on violin and opposite Ryan Adams at the mic, and she went on to highly regarded solo records and one with Tres Chicas. Cockrell's records have also seen the highest critical reviews, and rightly so, as they reduce the efforts of almost all of the mainstream singers to corporate fodder of cardboard cutouts.

What attracted me first to this duo CD, Begonias, though, is that it was produced by pop maverick Brad Jones. And he certainly satisfies, in his unique fashion, with a few of his stable of genius. Pedal and lap steel luminary Pete Finney and guitar star Pat Buchanan reveled in the opportunity to play real Country in real time, and you can hear that. But two mighty players that the artists brought to the sessions are Roman Candle's multi-instrumentalist Logan Matheny, who plays drums on his way to adding quite a few other things, and Aaron Oliva on bass.

Next day:

Well, the Opry Plaza Show was very impressive. It's one thing to sing well in the studio, but at the show you really get to hear what the hubbub is all about. Some serious crooning and expert harmony entwining filled the courtyard of the Opry where many were gathered. Very mixed crowd of families and all ages, and the group went over in a big way. 

The rhythm section absolutely kicked ass. Aaron Oliva is one of those bassists that seem to have it all under his hands, without trying. You couldn't even see him fingering the bass, like Joey Spamapinato of NRBQ, he just seemed to be squeezing the notes out, and holding the neck, I don't understand how those guys do that. Drummer Logan Matheny is beautiful, effortless. He was a pleasure to watch. He didn't have anything but a good time, a superb musician. He's going to do great things. And Rich Gilbert, a splendid new addition to the Nashville community, was smoking on pedal steel.

I had my camera with me and shot some video so you can have a taste of the show. There's a clip of the opener, Red Stick Ramblers (which will also give you a sense of the audience and atmosphere), and two clips of Caitlin and Thad and their band.

click to view:
"Two Different Things"
"Second Option"
Red Stick Ramblers

Don't miss this act when they come to your town. It's Country music like it's supposed to be played, and sung. Check out the audio clips on our Listen page and pick up YepRoc's Begonias, and the earlier records of these fine artists, Thad Cockrell and Caitlin Cary. And now, our conversations with each of them, Caitlin first... continue