BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM
There are listening parties all the time on Music Row, but there is only one Chris Stapleton.
Which explains the big turnout at RCA Studio A on Wednesday evening (April 5). The singer-songwriter-guitarist with the brawny, searing, blue-eyed-soul vocal delivery presided over a throng of well wishers as he previewed tunes that will be on From “A” Room, Volume 1, which drops on May 5.
“This is a few more people than we had last time,” Stapleton drawled dryly. He held a listening party in the same spot exactly two years ago when he introduced Traveller.
MusicRow’s Sherod Robertson recalled that at the Traveller party, everyone had to be quiet while Stapleton recorded the album’s final track, live in the studio during the festivities. Of course, Stapleton nailed it in one take. Since then, he and the collection have collected truckloads of awards and encyclopedias of praise.
“Thank y’all for coming: It’s free tacos-and-beer night at RCA,” the downhome star continued. “We camped out here for a couple of months and recorded a few things.
“You’re probably thinking, ‘Shut up and play some music.’”
So he did. We heard again the pounding rocker “The Second One to Know,” which he had introduced on Sunday’s ACM telecast. The room was completely hushed during his devastating, anguished ballad “Either Way,” recorded with only his acoustic-guitar accompaniment.
Another highlight was Stapleton’s mournful, slow treatment of the Willie Nelson 1983 hit “Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning.” The album opener, “Broken Halos,” was smoldering and soulful.
The set ranged from the outlaw stomper “Them Stems” to the deep blues grooves of “Death Row” and “I Was Wrong,” from the honky-tonk wailer “Up to No Good Livin’” to the moody meditation “Without Your Love.”
In addition to the new CD’s title and nine-song set list, the “big reveal” was that Stapleton has actually recorded two new albums.
“There is going to be a second one in December,” he announced. Presumably, this will be titled From “A” Room, Volume 2.
The lucky listening-party attendees included Craig Wiseman, Shawn Camp, Mike Henderson, Steve Buchanan, Debbie Carroll, Mark Hartley, Ben Vaughn, Morgane Hayes Stapleton, Jed Hilly, Sally Williams, Jay Williams, Cindy Mabe and Cindy Watts.
Mingling media mavens included Shanna Strassberg, Barry Mazor, Hunter Kelly, Lisa Konicki, Tom Roland, Ken Tucker, Phyllis Stark, R.J. Curtis, John Marks, Charlie Cook and Chuck Aly. Adding their wits to the lively proceedings were Dan Rogers, Gina Keltner, Mike Sistad, Leslie Fram and Tom Lord.
The presence(s) of Rogers, Keltner, Williams and Buchanan made me wonder if this guy is being prepped for Opry membership.
Attendee Bart Herbison reported that the NSAI is involved in two documentaries about songwriter issues. One is being produced by Marcus Hummon. One is in the works by Butch Spyridon.
As Stapleton indicated, this was, indeed, free tacos-and-beer night. We had our choice of soft tacos filled with chicken, cheese or veggies. The make-your-own nachos table held spiced ground beef, melted cheese and sauces to load onto your corn chips. The bar specialties were Mexican beers and tequilas.
One unexpected delight was the fact that producer Dave Cobb has collected cool historic photos taken of artists in Studio A and is displaying them in his office there. I told him about one I have of B.B. King posing with me in Studio A, many years ago.