Since I started this blog, taking on such a broad subject“Defining Americana/Roots Music”, I’ve encountered, personally, quite a few songwriter/performers who live this “new” genre. By “new”, I mean branching out from the norm in the last twenty years or so. Thanks to New York publicist Nick Loss-Eaton, I’ve been turned on to one of the most enjoyable, fresh and original new bands, Sons of Fathers. (Blanco River Music)
The brotherly matched harmonies of David Beck (Whitbeck) and Paul Cauthen have been compared to those of Crosby, Stills and Nash and the Avett Bros. Their harmonies remind me of early Widespread Panic with that Texas grit sprinkled throughout the music and lyrics. The band is small but loaded with gifted musicians and songwriters including Regan Schmidt, Dee Stribling and formerly from Ryan Bingham’s Dead Horses, Corby Schaub.
One of my personal favorites, “Mother Dear” from the band’s self titled album, is a great feeling, soft tune featuring all of the band’s talents in subtle nuances, and it reflects the matriarchal influence on both songwriters.
“Mother Dear.” David says, “We have really similar mothers, working hard every day, sacrificing for her kids.” Paul is also grateful, saying, “We both had solid rocks for moms. They were always there.”
Sons of Fathers is an especially appropriate name as Beck and Cauthen’s heritage has helped make them who they are. Cauthen, a native of Tyler, Texas, began singing in the church at the age of seven and learning guitar from his grandfather, a preacher. He says, “Granddad was a hell of a musician. He chose the Church of Christ instead of the church of rock and roll. I remember learning to sing harmonies in the bathtub at six years old in Tyler, Texas.” Paul now has a tattoo of his grandfather’s signature on his arm and says that his grandfather influences his sense of spirituality to this day.
Beck was raised in San Marcos, Texas, the son of Bill Whitbeck, a respected and renowned touring musician. “It was a different lifestyle for a young son. Dad was always on the road for business. We’ve learned from what our fathers and grandfathers have done and put those lessons into our lives,” he reflects.
“The catalog they have written displays elements of all their most righteous influences. Be it a country shuffle reminiscent of Robert Earl Keen, an Americana folk song steeped in the lyrical weight of Bob Dylan, or a genre-bending tune recalling the Beatles, Sons of Fathers possess something unique.” Says publicist Nick Loss-Eaton.
“Our favorite songwriters are the most timeless ones Dylan, Paul Simon, McCartney, Lennon, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. We also love the Texas writers: Robert Earl Keen, Willis Alan Ramsey, Roger Miller,” says Paul.
As they worked up their original compositions, they began to include finely tuned elements from their live show, incorporating tight Everly-esque harmonies and high energy live arrangements. In the spring of 2011, the band ventured into the studio in the hill country town of Doss, Texas. David says, “Being up there focused us and cleared our minds.”
Legendary producer Lloyd Maines joined them to co-produce their debut album. “Lloyd put the old soul way of doing things on our record, made sure everything was flowing,” says David.
My pick for this album is “Adam and Eve”. It’s a gentle ballad, Texas love song sprinkled with early subtle influences of Southern Country/Rock.
“Adam & Eve” is a song of commonality and romance. Paul simply says, “Everything rolls around on itself.” The song may be among the most original metaphors for what it's like to find the kind of true love that is strong enough to beget a dynasty. Cauthen adds, “Written in Brooklyn, New York just before Christmas. Three heathens from Texas singing loud at a friend’s house in Williamsburg, harmonizing late into the night. Space Heater humming along, sirens slipping through the glass. Words from home, flown by doves came through the chimney onto the table, covered in magazines and cans. Sunday morning and Saturday night spinning in and out.” In a world full of talented songwriters searching themselves and others for new material in an industry dominated, convoluted market, it’s refreshing and encouraging to hear these two young songwriters and the fresh original melodies and ideas that make them what they are.
Visit, learn more and listen at www.reverbnation.com/SonsofFathers.