Chris Stalcup and the Grange

Saturday, April 20, 2019 — 9:00 pm

Chris Stalcup and the Grange
Gypsy Rose Music
964 Alpharetta St Roswell, GA 30075

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Event Description

Chris Stalcup and the Grange


Passion meets purpose—it’s a good way to describe the essence of what’s driving Chris Stalcup and the Grange’s sophomore record Downhearted Fools. Theirs is a sound like a bonfire raging behind some small-town dirt-road shanty, of a band valiantly laying bare its soul while everyone dances wildly, moonshine drunk in the Southern night. Stalcup and his band channel Gram Parsons-influenced Stones tunes like “Honky-Tonk Women” and “Wild Horses,” occasionally coming off like a collaboration between Son Volt’s Jay Farrar and Drive-By Truckers’ Mike Cooley. The songs are deeply authentic and unapologetically Southern.

Downhearted Fools is Stalcup’s second solo release on DirtLeg Records, and it has become evidently clear that the Atlanta native knows how to write a song, and more importantly, knows how to write a song about what’s real. Case in point, the new record’s “Pete and Clyde,” a nod to Stalcup’s two grandfathers—one of them, Pete, a veteran who lost his arm in the war, but “learned to shoot a pistol left-handed better than most men can write their own name.”

Stalcup’s stint with his old band Chase Fifty Six, and his debut solo record, Dixie Electric Company, led the hard-charging singer/songwriter to open shows for artists like Lucero and Shooter Jennings, piquing the interest of the Americana press, from No Depression and Nine Bullets to Routes & Branches and Bucket Full of Nails. But even through these successful projects, Stalcup had only one foot in music, and the other planted safely in a two-decade spanning career in advertising. But as he began to write the songs that would become Downhearted Fools, he took a leap of rock & roll faith.

After corralling some of Atlanta’s premier musicians, he threw caution to the wind, and quit his day job, embracing a lifelong dream, but also a new set of anxieties and risks—like how to pay the mortgage on a touring musician’s income. “I finally pulled the trigger to where I could hit the road and concentrate on music full time,” Stalcup says. “Just faced the fear head on and went for it.”

“I’ve always been taught to follow a more traditional work ethic,” he continues, “to put my nose to the grindstone and work hard at a job. So it was a shock to my system, and those close to me, when I struck out on this new path.”  It’s a move that took guts. And—coupled with his new life on the road—it has been a driving force inspiring the new album.

Downhearted Fools explores life on the road, metaphorically naked and staring into the void of uncertainty. It’s as if Stalcup is looking in the mirror and seeing for the first time with clarity the man staring back at him. The mistakes he’s made, the triumphs he’s celebrated. And now, with the highway beneath him and a seasoned band behind him, he’s found the courage to be vulnerable, to plumb the emotional depths, both ego and fear be damned—as he sings on the album’s opening track, “Deliver me to the shores of St. Catherine, where the devil don’t dare stay.”

It’s also important to frame Downhearted Fools in the context of a failed relationship (a recent casualty of his new life on the road), of Stalcup losing his beloved canine companion of 14 years, and of chalking up his third year of sobriety. As you can imagine, the internal angst and struggle led to a flurry of new songs, written on the go whenever the spirit moved him.

Instead of falling back on old habits and cutting and running for the bottle, Stalcup faced the music. Literally. He turned challenges and obstacles and heartache into something positive, the band working through his new songs at soundcheck and in front of packed barrooms on tour. And he tracked them the very same way—live, raw and spontaneous—while working on Downhearted Fools with producer and engineer Ben Price (Little Tybee, Hello Ocho, Faun and a Pan Flute, Book of Colors) and producer Bret Hartley (Sugarland, Eliot Bronson, Sonia Leigh). Listening to the record, it’s as if you’re hearing Stalcup and the Grange from the front row of a smoky dive bar, kickin’ and gouging in the mud, blood and beer—the band is tight, the songs are real, and Stalcup’s potent yet wounded drawl reaches out, grabs you, and pulls you along for the ride.

“These days,” Stalcup says, “life has been a lot like picking up painting again, and knowing that making a brush stroke to the left or to the right or using an unintended color isn’t going to ruin the whole thing. Really it’s taking chances and perseverance that matter most.”