Stacie Collins – She’s ready now
Stacie Collins’ life would make a good country song. She’s been a stunt double, model, actress, ballroom dance instructor, courier, flower arranger, and caterer. She’s an actual Okie from Muskogee whose father was a musician. Her parents split when she was little; Stacie and her mother lived over the bar where Mom worked as a cocktail waitress. Little Stacie would come down stairs and collect quarters from the bar patrons and feed them to the jukebox. Music, then, was a major part of her life from the very beginning. A few years later, they relocated to Bakersfield, California, where they had family.
“That’s just what you were supposed to do if you lived in Muskogee — pack your shit and move to Bakersfield,” says Collins. “It was a cool place to grow up. Bands would come through and they would play the Civic Auditorium. That’s how I met my husband Al. Back in the ’80s, he was in a band, he was on tour. We started dating and eventually we got married. I was the supportive musician’s wife with the good job.”
Her singing career started out as a result of her husband’s band needing an occasional female harmony singer. “I was there, and I worked cheap,” she puts it. Eventually that turned into more opportunities to sing. “When people found out that I could actually sing, they started freaking out. That encouraged me to want to sing even more.”
In March 1996, after Al’s grandfather took ill, the couple moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in order to help his parents care for him. “We had planned to give up the music business altogether and just be normal people with normal jobs,” Stacie explains. “Al started writing songs on the acoustic guitar, and I was playing harp. We started writing together with the focus being on me as the singer.
“We would write a song and I would get all excited and want to go out and play, and he would say, ‘No, you’re not ready yet.’ ‘Come on, come on, we just wrote two songs!’ ‘Nope, you’re not ready yet.’ Finally, after working on the songs and practicing and just working our asses off, we went to a coffeehouse for an open-mike night and we played. The crowd went crazy and wanted more. It didn’t take long to build a following.
“We were an original band doing our own tunes. The Cleveland scene seemed to be mostly cover bands. We felt like we had done about all we could do in Cleveland so we decided to move to Nashville and see what we could make happen there.”
In Nashville, they quickly plugged into the local community, and soon decided to make a record. “We started asking ourselves, who did we want to produce it? We didn’t want our record to sound like every other record that comes out of Nashville. We listened and listened and listened to other people’s records, and the name we came up with was Dan Baird. We put the word out that we were looking for him and he got in touch with us.
“He came out to see us play and he liked what he heard. We all got together and began writing songs. He pushed me out of my comfort zone, making me try different things like that, really working me hard to get the best out of me.”
Her husband played bass on the album, titled The Lucky Spot. Other players included Paul Griffith on drums, and Baird and his Slumpy Boy bandmate Ken McMahan on guitar. It’s an infectious blend of roadhouse country rock fronted by a blues-harp-blowing woman who sings with a desperate passion and a slight Tammy Wynette catch in her voice.
McMahan recently departed her live band because of other commitments, but he found a fitting replacement. “One night while we were playing, I was blowing harp and had my back turned,” Collins recounts, “and Ken stepped off the stage and took his guitar off and handed it to Warner Hodges, from Jason & the Scorchers, who was there at the show. I turned to Kenny for him to take a solo, and instead there’s Warner grinning at me. He just tore it up. Between Dan and Warner on guitars, the band has this incredible chemistry. They just feed off one another. It’s magical.”
Collins released The Lucky Spot on her own label, Rev Records. “I’m not waiting for anybody’s permission anymore,” she says. “You can get your money together, you can make a record, you can go on the road, you can play, you can get distribution, you can use the internet — there’s so many things that you can do as an indie artist to make it happen, and that’s what we been doing. I’m the record label, the manager, the booking agent, the publicist, the graphic artist.
“If all else fails, I’ve been to Europe four times and have a couple more tours scheduled. There is a nice little living to be had over there. If you own your own record, you can sell a few thousand copies there and be successful.”