The Southgate House Revival - Sanctuary
Fri December 22, 2023 8:00 pm (7:00 pm DOORS)
Honky Tonk Holidaze with Dallas Moore Band Alex Williams (full band)
$22 adv/$25 dos
The Dallas Moore Band
Dallas Moore’s old-school country sound developed honestly, following over 20 years of sharing stages and studios with his honky-tonk heroes. Satellite radio support, paired with a willingness to perform over 300 shows a year, finds the seasoned veteran positioned to reach the Americana masses with his forthcoming album Mr. Honky Tonk.
Tastemakers have taken note already, with the Dallas Moore Band crowned the Ameripolitan Music Awards’ 2017 Outlaw Group of the Year. The award came after three prior nominations for the band No Depression credits with bringing “hangovers and excitement to outlaw country fans everywhere.”
Recent career strides caught the attention of producer/country-music heavyweight Dean Miller, son of Roger Miller and an accomplished songwriter himself, having penned tunes with George Jones, Hank Williams III, Jamey Johnson and more. Miller entered Baird Music Group’s Nashville studio with Moore and his band to record what was originally planned to be a five-song EP. “Out of all the things we’ve ever done, I think Dean captured what I do way better than anyone else we’ve ever worked with,” Moore says. “It was the best recording experience I ever had.”
The EP turned album after its barnstorming title track—a song Moore actually wrote 20 years prior—gained serious traction on Sirius XM satellite radio’s Outlaw Country channel. The album’s other tunes came more recently, all of them written in the past year and a half, making them clearer snapshots of how sharing stages (and rounds of shots) with his country-music idols has impacted his songwriting. “In the last several years, I’ve been real blessed to tour with a lot of my songwriting influences, and they’ve helped me improve my craft,” Moore says. “Guys like Dean Dillon, Billy Joe Shaver and Ray Wylie Hubbard have been so supportive. It’s really cool when your heroes become your friends, and that’s what happened in the past several years.”
Moore’s stage show—already seen in years past by fans of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd—has improved with every opportunity to open for an iconic country or Southern-rock artist. “If you’re playing in the slot before Dean Dillon,” Moore says, “You’d better not suck.”
Another crew of country luminaries performed on the album, including harmonica legend Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Chris Stapleton), famed Nashville session bassist Michael Rhodes and pedal-steel master Steve Hinson. “We walked in to the studio and saw all of these incredible players lined up,” Moore says. “I thought they were there to play with someone else!”
Even with such ample backing, the main attraction on Mr. Honky Tonk is still Moore and his deft skill as a songwriter and lyricist. Like so many of his inspirations, he’s an ace at spinning relatable stories. On “Killing Me Nice and Slow,” he weaves an impactful tale of lost love (“It’s a long way down when you’re higher than a Georgia pine on love and whiskey the night before / Then you hear the slamming of the door”). From there, Moore puts his spin on time-tested country tropes such as celebrating place (“Texahio,” a nod to splitting time between Texas and his native Cincinnati) and balancing Saturday-night hellraising with Sunday-morning God praising (“Shoot Out the Lights”).
Moore’s mother—a bluegrass and gospel performer herself—bought her son his first guitar when he was 16 years old. Before that, sports had been his first priority. “My big claim to fame back in those days—one year I beat out Ken Griffey Jr. for the most home runs in the league,” Moore says. “But then I got a guitar the next year, and I quit—I walked away as a winner!”
A few years later, Moore enrolled at Northern Kentucky University to study jazz and classical guitar. But he found his true calling in a less high-brow environment around the same time, performing on the local bar scene in a country house band. Multi-night stints playing classic covers set a precedent for the Dallas Moore Band’s sound and unrelenting tour schedule. And Moore’s gruff vocals have made him an ideal singer of songs about hard luck and harder living as far back as his 1991 debut LP, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys.
Once Mr. Honky Tonk arrives in February, expect Moore to play nonstop in support of his new album. He played a whopping 327 shows in 2017, and that was without an album to promote. Who knows, he might just play solo or with his band every single night in 2018.
The Dark Horse Rider album featuring 10 new Dallas Moore originals was released on Sol Records in January of 2015. The Dallas Moore Band was nominated for Outlaw Group of the Year at the 2016 Ameripolitan Music Awards in Austin,Texas and for Country Artist of the Year and Singer/Songwriter of the year at the 2016 CEA Awards in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Moore's next release, a live acoustic album of new original music titled DALLAS MOORE: LIVE AT THE BULLITT COUNTY JAIL is slated for release in October 2016 on SOL Records.
Dallas Moore’s music is featured regularly on SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s Outlaw Country Channel 60, CMT.com, Yallwire.com and terrestrial AM/FM radio in America, Canada, Europe, Australia and Brazil. You’ll also find Moore profiled in the book “Outlaws Still At Large!” by author Neil Alexander Hamilton along with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, David Allan Coe, Blackberry Smoke, Wayne Mills & more.
I grew up on '80s hair metal," Alex Williams says with a laugh. "My dad listened to Cinderella and Ratt, so that was my musical upbringing until I was about 16. That's when my grandparents played me 'Dreaming My Dreams' by Waylon Jennings and 'Red Headed Stranger' by Willie Nelson."
It would be hard to overstate the importance of those records on Alex Williams' life. After hearing them, he traded in his electric guitar for an acoustic, dove deep into classic country music, and, most importantly, began writing his own songs. Roughly a decade later, Williams is releasing his debut album, 'Better Than Myself,' and much like Willie and Waylon, he's doing it on his own terms.
"It seems like there's a lot of people out there just trying to get through the day," reflects Williams. "They're working a job they don't love or following somebody else's dreams just because it's safe and it keeps them comfortable. I didn't want to be like that."
'Better Than Myself' is a distant cry from the sugary pop hybrids currently dominating country radio airwaves, and as far as Williams is concerned, that's a good thing. He's part of a new breed of upstart outsiders, writing music that at once sounds both modern and traditional, channeling the raw, authentic sound that's made stars out of outlaw singers and red dirt rockers. His live show is a force to be reckoned with, earning him dates with everyone from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Hank Williams, Jr., but he's equally at home in the studio. Fat, twangy guitar tones, honky-tonk pianos, and swirling pedal steel lay the framework for Williams' blend of vintage country and southern rock, and his lived-in baritone breathes genuine life and depth into his based-on-a-true-story brand of songwriting.
"This record represents the last ten years of my life," says Williams. "My thoughts, my feelings, everything that I've been through, it's all in these songs. It's what I've wanted to say for a decade."
Williams was born just outside Indianapolis, in the small town of Pendleton, IN. After graduating from high school, he relocated to Nashville for a short-lived stint at Belmont University, but he quickly dropped out after realizing he could learn more about life by hitting the road and experiencing it than he ever could in a classroom.
"I played some in Nashville and did the Broadway thing, and I played locally around Indiana some, too, but my first real gigs were in Texas," remembers Williams. "I went down there because my cousin owned this shrimper bar on the Gulf coast where I could play. That was a big part of what got me so into Texas and all those Texas songwriters like Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Billy Joe Shaver."
Williams had a band with some of his former college classmates, and by the time he was ready to make the leap and go solo, buzz about the group had caught the ear of Big Machine Label Group's Julian Raymond. While Big Machine might be best known as home to crossover stars like Taylor Swift, Raymond's illustrious pedigree as a GRAMMY-winning songwriter and producer included work with old school greats like Glen Campbell and Hank Williams Jr., and he sensed something special in Williams.
"I was worried," remembers Williams. "I was 25, leaving this band, and I had no idea where my career was going to go, but Julian gave me a chance. He invited me to come by and start recording demos of my songs, and we probably ended up doing 50 or 60 of them. We kept slimming it down, but I kept writing."
When it was time to head into the studio for proper recording sessions, Williams and Raymond pieced together an all-star band featuring some of Nashville's finest musicians: drummer Victor Indrizzo (Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris), keyboard player Matt Rollings (Lyle Lovett, Mark Knopfler), bassist Joeie Canaday (Leann Rimes, Steven Curtis Chapman), pedal steel player Dan Dugmore (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt), and guitarists Tom Bukovac (Don Henley, Stevie Nicks) and J.T. Corenflos (Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson).
With Raymond at the helm as producer, the band recorded live on the studio floor and wrapped basic tracking in just two days. The result is a rollicking throwback chock full of wit and wisdom, colored throughout by Williams' fierce streak of independence. Album opener "Better Than Myself," which features harmonica legend and longtime Willie Nelson bandmember Mickey Raphael, sets the stage perfectly, as Williams sings, "Truth be told in every note I play / Truth be told I don't care what you say."
"One of my old bandmates was pissed at me one time and he said, 'Man, your songs are better than you are,'" Williams remembers. "That was hard to hear, but I had to save the line. I wrote the song in the back room of a venue before we played one of our last shows together, and it really felt like this new beginning for me."
Williams has never been one to pull a punch in his deeply personal songwriting. On the fingerpicked "Pay No Mind," he imparts hard-won insight about what (and who) really matters, while the folky "Freak Flag" is a devil-may-care ode to being yourself, and "Little Too Stoned" laments the loss of the authentic in favor of our society's obsession with the latest trends and fads. Elsewhere on the album, the hard-charging "Hell Bent Hallelujah" offers up a profane prayer for some good news, the infectious "More Than Survival" insists on living a life that's more meaningful than just getting by, and "A Few Short Miles" draws inspiration from a figure Williams met during those early days onstage in Texas.
"There was a fisherman down there who rescued an old acoustic guitar from a dumpster after a hurricane came through Galveston," remembers Williams. "One day I was in the bar restringing my guitar and he knocked on the door and gave it to me. It was really inspiring getting to know him, and a lot of things he said to me made it into that song."
Perhaps the most personal track on the record, though, is "Old Tattoo," a stirring ode to Williams' grandfather and the strength of his mother and grandmother in the face of his passing. "Time don't heal / It's just fadin' like the floors of an old saloon," he sings. "You can hide the pain away / Even if it's carved right into you / Like an old tattoo."
It's an arresting moment, and an apt metaphor for a songwriter with the ability to lodge his melodies and lyrics deep beneath your skin. Forget fame and fortune, hits and hype. As far as Williams is concerned, the legacy you leave behind with the ones you care about most is the true measure of any man. With that in mind, and with a debut album as good as 'Better Than Myself' under his belt, it's clear that Alex Williams is here to do more than just survive.