Head west from
As we enter through the laundry room and past the computer, we’re greeted by Linda Gulley, Steve’s mom, a small dark haired woman who greets each of us with enthusiasm and grace. We take off our shoes and push into the kitchen which is already crowded with six or seven people eating at a table piled with food – sweet potatoes, mashed potato salad, deviled eggs, macaroni salad, beans, and ham. On the counter there’s a layered cake, four tiers of cake with pineapple filling between each layer and topped with whipped cream.
We head into the living room, spotlessly clean and carefully decorated, fluffy pillows filling a sofa and two love seats, a large rear projection TV taking up one corner. Steve’s sister Kristy is sitting there and her husband Rex comes in soon. Irene has been worried that we’re intruding anyway, and being indoors does nothing for her discomfort. Linda and Steve’s enthusiasm for our visit, their warmth and welcome ease the moment as we adjust ourselves into seats or onto space on the floor.
Dishes get washed and the first shift leaves the table, making room for the second shift. We sit down and dig into the feast. Linda bustles about, making sure everyone is comfortable and has plenty to eat. Characteristically, Irene moves over to the sink and starts watching dishes. The table is surrounded by men, with the exception of Alisa; the conversation lively and friendly.
Steve is standing by my shoulder and a conversation about music, his values, and his choice to return to his
At we head over to
Jadon Gibson, the promoter, bustles around as the crowd begins to assemble, a younger crowd than we have seen recently in
Steve Gulley, while having been a member of some top bands, has never before made a solo album. Last night, at Down Home, the album made its sales debut. Earlier in the week he had begun the publicity campaign with a live appearance in the XM Radio studio with Kyle Cantrell. They had discussed his history and played each of the fourteen cuts on the album. Kyle, a skilled interviewer, has given Steve the opportunity to talk about his roots in
Grasstowne kicked off its first set with its current single “Dixie Flyer.” Since their first CD will appear in a month or so, there isn’t any recorded material for their performances to reflect. Dixie Flyer has been circulated to radio stations and is played regularly on XM. Their set continues with a variety of songs appearing on the upcoming album as well as songs from Steve Gulley’s new solo album, which is available in the lobby. Nationally, the sale of CDs has plummeted in the past few years as fans have been quick to embrace new means of distribution. The wildly popular i-Pod as well as the ease of electronic reproduction has made sharing favorite songs increasingly easy. Neither performers nor record companies have yet figured out how to distribute their music and provide a reliable income stream. Meanwhile, new and little known performers have used web sites to emerge from obscurity without the vast distribution power of the major labels. Many bands rely on the sales of their CDs during a break to help finance their tour, therefore they emphasize singing their own music and selling it during intermissions.
A major band needs to establish a sound recognizable to knowledgeable listeners from the first chords. Allison Kraus and Union Station, Mountain Heart, Dry Branch Fire Squad, and Rhonda Vincent and the Rage all share this quality as do some other bands, but surely not all. Grasstowne, as a new band, is on its way to that sort of distinctiveness, but has not quite achieved it yet. Steve Gulley’s fine, flexible voice stands out from many other lead singers. His range is broad, allowing the humorous impressions he does of other singers, as well as his emotion laden tenor leads.
Thanks to Lisa Burdett for the picture in the Gulley Kitchen.