Hot Texas Tunes From Prophets and Outlaws
Good music, much like good food, good beer and good friends, is one of life’s greatest pleasures. As wonderful as the old familiar favorites are, it’s always fun to discover something new. Whether it’s a brew or a band, there’s nothing better than the thrill of new love. This Thursday Dec. 31, Texas country chart topper the Randy Rogers Band rings in the New Year at Tulsa’s Cain’s Ballroom. While there’s no doubt this headliner will be worth the ticket price, if you’re looking for some fabulous new tunes for 2016, make sure you arrive early to catch the openers, Prophets and Outlaws and Adam Hood.
Although the great state of Texas cranks out its fair share of “Big Hat” country, its best musical exports are a little harder to categorize. Lone Star artists like Robert Earl Keen, Joe Ely, Lyle Lovett, and Hayes Carll don’t fit easily into any single genre box, and that is a very good thing. Maybe a little country, sometimes a little blue-sy, occasionally a little folk-y and more often than not, literate and witty, these musicians don’t feel the need to conform to anyone’s expectations, and as a result, they write songs that are catchy, clever and darn good. Prophets and Outlaws, a young band out of Dallas, falls into that category.
As Prophets and Outlaws, the band has been together a little over three years, but frontman Matt Boggs (lead vocals, guitar) and brothers Steven (lead guitar, vocals) and James Guckenheimer (drums, vocals) first played together in high school. Jamie Ringholm (keys, vocals) joined them after college, and CJ Thompson (bass, vocals) came on board last year.
The band’s sound has been called “Texas soul”, and two of its songs have made the soundtrack to the ABC hit television series “Nashville.” The group’s latest single “Country Music Gold” is a retro, R&B-infused anthem to “old/pre-pop” country. It features Boggs’ gorgeous vocals and the band’s versatile chops.
Brothers Steven and James grew up in a musical household. Their father is a drummer who spent time playing with the Four Seasons. “James and I grew up listening to the Allman Brothers and The Band, that kind of Southern rock, as well as Hendrix,” Steven Guckenheimer said. According to Guckenheimer, Boggs grew up listening to country. “When we combined, he brought a little country influence to us, and we brought a lot of the Southern rock and blues and Ray Charles and stuff like that to him. From there, it all kind of combined and formed this sound from all of our influences.”
Playing during high school allowed Boggs and Guckenheimer to perform before a large and enthusiastic audience. Guckenheimer knew early on he wanted to pursue music, and his family was supportive. “I just knew that this is what I wanted to do. I just knew that this is for me. I just loved being on stage. I loved the idea of putting hard work in and then getting to perform live for everybody and trying to get reactions out of other people. That was so appealing to me, and I know James and Matt felt the same way.”
While the band’s music doesn’t fit the Top 40 Country standard, fans happily embrace the music. “These fans don’t just want to hear songs about moonlight and painted on jeans. They want to hear songs that are from the heart. They want to believe you when you’re singing and playing a song. I think that’s what they like about the bands in Texas. We don’t have to follow a mold. Everybody can form their own sound, and because of that, it’s believable. It’s not ‘the label told me I should sound like this.’ It’s ‘I sound like this because of all the influences and experiences that happened in my life.’ I think that’s what they fans love about this music,” Guckenheimer commented.
Over the years, the band has spent many hours together rehearsing and on tour. A sense of humor has helped them maintain a close friendship throughout it all. “When you’re on the road so much with each other, we’re in one vehicle together, if we weren’t all friends, and we all didn’t know how to laugh with each other, this wouldn’t work. It would be terrible,” Guckenheimer laughed. “We say that we’re the best at killing time. I’m sure all bands are. If we have a seven-hour drive, we can have a two-hour conversation about anything. You just bring up a subject, and we’ll just go and make jokes and debate and argue and everything else. It’s fun. We just really have a great time with each other.”
The guys in Prophets and Outlaws are big fans of the Randy Rogers Band, and they’re thrilled to be performing with them at Cain’s Ballroom. “It’s our first time at Cain’s. We’re excited to get in there. We’ve been wanting to get into Tulsa. We wanted to find the right venue, and when we got this opportunity, we thought ‘no better place than to play Cain’s.’”