View Full Version : Artist Of The Week - Gary Allan

Chris Gaines
01-06-2000, 08:12 AM
At thirteen, he played the honky tonks. At fifteen, he turned down a record deal. At eighteen, he joined the army. At twenty, he owned a successful construction company. He's a devoted to his family of three little girls. <P>At an audition, Gary met Jake Kelly, Jake took him aside and said, "I don't want to be in a band with these guys. But, you're a great singer. I want to start a band with you." The rest as they would say is history. <BR>-----------------<BR>"Just another hat act." <P>Those are words Gary Allan has heard whispered before. Debuting when he did in 1996, at a time when Nashville was scratching a rash of suburban cowboy hat-wearing newcomers, it was perhaps an inevitable response. But he had the edge of experience. Having honed an individual style on the honky-tonk circuit in his native California since age 12, Allan is nothing if not resilient, and like the long line of honky-tonk icons whose music has inspired him - Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard, Johnny Horton, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens - he's learned that the best way to meet a challenge is head-on. With a smile. <P>"There were these guys at Buck's place last night," Allan says, the day after giving a by-invitation performance at a Bakersfield birthday celebration for Buck Owens. "I was signing their Gretsch guitars. They were way into punk, and they said, 'Man, we thought you were just another hat act out of Nashville, and you rawk!' When people see you're real, they're so impressed, and they so want something like that. I've had those guys at my shows since I was 15. Our shows are different that way - I don't worry about politics too much. I go in and I have fun." <P>If Allan sounds relaxed, he's earned the right. After playing countless smoky bars with his dad as a teen, he led his own band through the clubs and fairs of Southern California for several years before signing with Decca Records and releasing two albums that each generated Top 10 hits (single "It Would Be You" climbed to #5). His just-completed third album, Smoke Rings In The Dark, is by far his most honest and rewarding release to-date. And the hard-working entertainer achieved that feat following the most tumultuous year the music industry's seen in decades. When Decca closed in January, corporate maneuvers could have relegated Allan to the "Whatever Happened To...?" column in tabloid rags. Instead, he was one of only four artists picked up by parent company MCA. His new deal afforded him the time and resources to create a more mature, career-defining record. <P>Co-produced by top MCA honchos Mark Wright and Tony Brown (a "magic combo" who had never produced together before, and specifically requested by Allan), Smoke Rings In The Dark features a more muscular sound, replete with some swing, bluesy shuffle and twang. Allan even tackles Del Shannon's "Runaway," a staple of every working band's song list. Country sounds come courtesy of Western country sidemen like pedal steel man Dan Dugmore, Allan's longtime bandmate Jake Kelly, and former Faron Young/George Jones fiddler Hank Singer. <P>"I always thought Gary had a very distinctive sound," Brown comments. "On Smoke Rings In The Dark, this new creative team (Brown, Wright, Allan) really maxed out a direction - we found Gary's musical identity." Adds Wright, "When I first heard Gary play live, it was all about his vibe and musical presence. On this record, we've finally captured the essence of his live performance." <P>While Nashville contemporaries issue safe pop garnished with occasional steel licks, Allan has synthesized the hard honky-tonk vibe with the high-energy immediacy of his live shows. But it's on ballads like the sophisticated title tune, Harley Allen's "Bourbon Borderline," and Buddy Brock's classic-sounding "Don't Tell Mama" that he really shows the depth and command of his critically praised "aching tenor." <P>A great singer sounds like they've climbed inside the song and are living it as they sing; there's no distance between their vocal and the song's emotion. When Allan sings, whether he's parsing a lyric with humor or pain, he sounds like he's down with the dust and sweat and compromise of everyday life. No high-glam stylings here. <P>Capturing that mix - the light and the dark, the laughter with the anger, the conservative and the unusual - goes to the heart of the sometimes contradictory cultural traditions that helped shape the divorced father of three. Allan calls the region around Orange County, California home, an area rich in country music history. It's one of the few places in Southern California with working cattle ranches, where cowboys still rope and brand and go two-stepping at night. <P>"We get asked a lot at shows, 'What's a guy from California doin' playin' country music?'" Allan says. "There's a lot happening on the West Coast. And it's different than Nashville. I never heard the terms 'radio-friendly' or 'commercial value' until I got to Nashville. When we were writing songs in California, we wrote 'em for how we thought they would come off in a club-y'know, 'How's this gonna be to sing live to people?'" <P>A short drive west from those cowboy roundups are the beach communities where Allan loves to surf - and where the punk and modern-rock scene still thrives. Interestingly, many of its pierced and tattooed denizens are also exuberant fans of country legends like Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and Hank Williams. Allan sees them at his own shows, and believes they respond to country music's relevancy. <P>"It's real life," he says. "The great country songs, they're powerful - I don't care what kind of music you listen to, they have a lot of soul. That's what a lot of country's lacking today." <P>Soul was a priority for Allan while hunting for songs for the new album. He heeded the lessons he's learned from years of reading audiences. The music - more specifically, the industry - has always gone through cycles. What outlasts trends are true stories and strong songs. Allan credits the new album's quality to the players and the fact that he was allowed to do three full song searches with publishers. Additionally, he hosted his own private guitar pull in a living room with cream-of-the-crop songwriters like Guy Clark, Harlan Howard, Harley Allen, Shawn Camp and Byron Hill. "They were there to pitch me songs, and they all pitched 'em acoustically," Allan says with enthusiasm. "It was awesome." Three of the album's best songs - Camp's "Sorry," and Allen's "Learning to Live With Me" and "Bourbon Borderline" - came from that enjoyable return to tradition. <P>That intimate setup also completed a circle, in a way, by returning to the basic importance of the singer and the song -- and listening. Allan's record deal was cinched by his extensive performance experience on the club circuit, where, like any stage-savvy veteran, he learned to listen to his audience and what makes them respond. For Allan, it's the live moments connecting him to an audience through song that still define country music. <BR>------------------<BR>Gary's Albums:<P>It Would Be You - 1998<P>Smoke Rings In The Dark - 1999<BR>------------------<BR>Gary On Tour:<P>01/07/00 Johnson City TN Freedom Hall 07:30 PM <BR>01/14/00 Uncasville CT Mohegan Sun Casino 08:00 PM <BR>01/15/00 Uncasville CT Mohegan Sun Casino 08:00 PM <BR>01/25/00 Tamworth AUS Wests Lyric Theatre 03:00 PM <BR>01/26/00 Tamworth AUS West Tamworth Leagues Club 06:30 PM <BR>01/27/00 Tamworth AUS Blazes 04:00 PM <BR>01/28/00 Tamworth AUS Wests Lyric Theatre 05:00 PM <BR>01/29/00 Tamworth AUS Blazes 12:30 PM <BR>02/11/00 Raleigh NC The Longbranch Saloon 11:30 PM <BR>02/25/00 Corinth MS Crossroads Areana 07:30 PM <BR>03/11/00 Salem VA Salem Civic Center 09:30 PM <BR>03/27/00 Irvine CA New Crazy Horse Saloon 08:00 PM <BR>04/01/00 Columbus GA Bradley Theatre 08:30 PM <BR>05/07/00 Augusta GA Fairgounds w/Merle Haggard 03:45 PM <BR>------------------<BR>Gary Sites:<P>Offical Site - <A HREF="http://www.garyallan.com" TARGET=_blank>www.garyallan.com</A> <BR>Fan Site - <A HREF="http://members.aol.com/GryAlnFan" TARGET=_blank>members.aol.com/GryAlnFan</A> <BR>------------------<BR>And that's this week's Artist Of The Week! :)<P>JasonN

01-06-2000, 11:58 AM
Very cool info Jason! :)<BR>Thanks for writing all of it, but who is the dude? :o<BR>Is he good?<P>Brian<BR>N

Chris Gaines
01-06-2000, 01:20 PM
Brian... if you got Real Audio... goto the Official Site... there is some songs off the new album.. up for the listening :)<P>Check it out :)<P>BTW.. as PCL stated.. Gary recorded a song written by Garth.. so he must be somewhat good :)<P>JasonN

01-06-2000, 06:36 PM
He is great! He is #2 in my list of favorites! First is Garth of course then it is Gary!!!!!!!!!!!!! Gary puts on one h--- of <BR>a concert! He really gets involved with the crowds and very sweet and polite! I have been to every concert he has had around my area!! I would not miss a one of them!!! We also attended his Fan Fair party in Nashville last year!! He is sooooooooo good to the fans!! You should go out and buy one of his cd's and<BR>see for yourself!! Also go to <A HREF="http://www.garyallan.com," TARGET=_blank>www.garyallan.com,</A> that is his new official website!!! I know you'll love him!!!!N

01-06-2000, 07:57 PM
Thanks Jason :) I will give it a try when I come home :D<P>BUT!!!<P>Many artisit would record a song written by Garth just to try and gain some success that way around :o<P>BrianN

01-06-2000, 09:04 PM
What? Gary only has 2 albums? :o<P>I thought he has been in this business for like 5 years :o<P>So, was his last one successful? How many did it sell?<P>His new single is REALLY GOOD :) I like it because it gives me the CHINESE FEELING :o<P>TommyN

01-06-2000, 10:25 PM
Well as far as I know Gary has 3 albums. I have the first two, I haven't bought Smoke Rings In The Dark Yet.<BR>I just love the two I do have though. My only problem with them is that they aren't that long. Or they don't seem as long as some of my other albums.<P>Brian,<BR>I think Gary is pretty good (just giving you my opinion ;)) He has that older Country sound to him. He certainly isn't the pop type Country. Well, not the last time I heard him. *LOL* :D Unless this new album is a complete change from his other two, but I don't think it is.<P>PaulaN

01-06-2000, 10:30 PM
Ok, I had to go and look. The other Album that I don't see mentioned is Used Heart For Sale. That was I believe in 1996 (at least that is what it says on the back of my tape) That is my favorite out of the 2 I have. :D<P>PaulaN

Chris Gaines
01-07-2000, 03:36 AM
Welll I didn't know about the 3rd album 'cause his First Label disappeared and He was prob. one of the only one's that was picked up by the "Parent" company - MCA Records.<P>The Official Site, and the Fans site don't list that 3rd album :/<P>Jason N

01-09-2000, 05:01 PM
Gary's first cd was Used Heart For Sale, his <BR>2nd one was It would Be You! Those two he was still with the Decca label and yes, the decca <BR>label went under and MCA signed Gary and then<BR>out came Smoke Rings In the Dark! I have enjoyed all three CD's but like I mentioned <BR>earlier I think Gary is pretty neat!! Smoke <BR>Rings is climbing up the charts fast!!! Go buy it and enjoy the music!!!N

01-10-2000, 01:03 PM
Gary Allan is AWESOME!!!!!!!Right up there next to Garth!!! Gary has the old honky-tonk swing sound, buts he's added his own style to it!!!!!! If you haven't heard his music yet, he is definately worth giving a listen too!! Thanks for the Great review!!N