Monday, September 8, 2014

Waylon Payne: From "Walk The Line" to Walking Through Fire

Story by D. Collin Hudson

Waylon Malloy Payne has walked through fire to find redemption on the other side.  In June of this year he celebrated the ten-year anniversary of his debut record, “The Drifter” while also enjoying his newly found, but hard-earned, sobriety.  Payne has been working on the follow up to that record “for the last couple of years” which he intends to release “sometime soon.”  In the next year or so he’s appearing in two more films set to be released.  And 2015 will bring yet another important milestone for Payne when the Academy and Grammy Award winning film, “Walk The Line,“ in which he beautifully portrayed the Sun Records rock and roll pioneer and country music legend, Jerry Lee Lewis, will turn ten years old.  But it is clearly the struggle for his sobriety that has been his white whale.  “It was the roughest battle I’ve ever been through,” he admitted.  “That and losing my momma were probably the two roughest things I’ve ever gone through in my life.”

  Born into a family that was part of the very fabric of country music royalty, Payne literally hit the ground running.   “I know about moving around a lot,” he stated flatly.  “When you’re born the son of a famous country singer, you move.”  Waylon’s “momma” is Oklahoma Country Music Hall of Famer, Sammi Smith, who also won the 1972 Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance with her smash hit song, “Help Me Make It Through The Night” (penned by Kris Kristofferson).  His father is Jody Payne who spent the early part of his life on the road as guitarist with bluegrass and country music legends like Charlie Monroe, Merle Haggard and Ray Price.  Then, starting in 1973, the elder Payne spent the next thirty-five years traveling the world with Willie Nelson and The Family. Waylon was named after his Godfather, Waylon Jennings.

  “The first two years of my life,” Payne recalls, “we lived in a little town called Marietta, Oklahoma.  That’s where one of our family farms is.  My family has had that place forever.  When we moved from Marietta we went down to Vidor (Texas). I went to high school in Frisco.  So I’ve pretty much been a Texan or an Oklahoman my whole life, or in Nashville.  I live in Texas now, but also have a lot of rich history in Oklahoma.”

  In 2004 Waylon Payne made his own mark on the music world with the release of his debut record, “The Drifter.”  He explains, “My album came out while we were filming ‘Walk The Line.’  You know, you always dream about having a hit record,” he admitted, “but my record didn’t do very well.”  When asked about the potential challenges of promoting his debut record while at the same time shooting his very first film role ever, Payne began to chuckle before I could even finish the question.  “I would have had a lot more energy and time to promote my record,” he declared, “if I wouldn’t have gotten strung out on crystal meth.”  Payne admitted to having a recurring battle with drugs for many years.  “It’s been a road that I’ve had to walk really, really tightly.  Because I eventually had such a bad problem, I feel, that if I ever get back into that lifestyle again it would mean the end.”

  But “The Drifter” is a damn fine record, and one that received high marks from at least a few critics, a fair number music fans, and some of his peers as well. Payne wrote ten of the eleven tracks on the album, (“Jesus On a Greyhound” written by the lovely and talented Shelby Lynne) Keith Gattis was the producer.

  The anticipation for his second record has only grown after the success of his acting debut in “Walk The Line.”  Waylon shared how landing the role of a lifetime, and the film’s widespread critical acclaim, has changed his life.  “It was my first introduction to film, and it was pretty much a “hit the ground running,“ type of thing, but it completely changed my life.  It led me down an avenue of being able to be a Hollywood actor. It lead to a second career that I really always wanted to try but had no ability to get to.”

   Waylon Payne also won the lead role in the 2008 film “Crazy” about the fascinating life of the early Nashville guitar picking legend, Hank Garland, and he still continues with his acting work today.  “There’s one called ‘Turnabout’ in final production right now,” he said, ”but the really big one is in theatres on September 5th, and it’s called ‘The Identical.’  It’s loosely based on Elvis and the cast includes Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Joey Pantoliano, Seth Greene and it’s a really, really great film and I’m really proud to be a part of it. ”

  Payne explains why he’s comfortable performing most of his live shows around Austin these days.  “I play around here because it’s where I live,” he says, ”and I’ll do some things in California every once in a while but it’s really is because of my fight to stay sober.”  Waylon spoke about after spending many years in California, knowing it was time to come home.  “I came here (to Austin) on July 24th, 2008.  I was playing a series of dates with Cory Morrow, and I was practically dead.  It was really bad.  But I met some people here that saved my life.  My Manager Edward, and Cory, they rallied around me, and loved me, and gave me a safe place to be.   So I feel safe here and don’t want to venture out too much to places where I’m going to get into trouble.”  He continued, “A lot of my friends are dead.  A lot of them are still using and I can’t go be around it or them.  It really kind of sucks but it comes down to whether you want to live or you want to die.  That’s about it.  And I choose to live.”

  The material for Payne’s new record is centered on his fight for his life and trying to kick his addictions.  “It all correlated to getting off drugs.  For a while there my mind wouldn’t work.”  He continued,  “The recovery has taken so long and it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve even been able to put pen to paper again and make things make sense any more.  But it’s basically about dealing with issues I’ve been through.  I just lost my father last year and that was a really weird thing to go through because we were close but we were kind of like strangers too, because we were never really around each other that much.  We got to know each other when I was an adult in my 20’s is when we really started hanging out.  I guess the best way to describe it (the new record) is that I’m a 42 year old man, been down the road a little bit, and I’m just trying to figure how to make the next little statement that I want to make to the world.  “The Drifter” was a pretty impactful record for me but it was about the first thirty-three years of my life.  I kind of like writing about things that make people think, or feel good.”  Payne added, “I’m pretty proud if it.  There are some good songs on it.   I’ve got a duet with Willie that will be on it which is really nice.  He also played a big part in me getting straight and staying straight too.  He’s just the most amazing man I know.  He’s just incredible!”

  “But I’m really not in a hurry to go anywhere,“ Payne added.  I kind of take it like Billy Joe Shaver said it; ‘I’m already in this business so I’m not really trying to get anywhere.  I’m just going to try and do the best that I can.’ “

  When asked about other artists he has recorded or co-written with, or ones he would perhaps like to work with some day, Waylon did share one more thing he would like to get out there and experience.  “I don’t do a lot of co-writing but when I did it with Keith Gattis for my (first) record, or with Pat Green or Cory Morrow, it just felt really natural when it happened.  Other folks have cut a lot of my songs; Lee Ann Womack cut “Solitary Thinking” which got her a Grammy nomination, and which was really exciting for me. Charlie Robison gave me one of my first cuts, which was a great thrill for me, and he cut one my songs (The Bottom) and Django Walker and Cory Morrow have too. So that’s kind of nice.  But if I could work with one artist as kind of a dream thing, I would have to say Bobbie Gentry because I’d love to see what she’s doing, and I think she’s such an exquisite writer, and just an amazing talent, and such an enigma and a mystery, that I would just love to sit down with her for an afternoon and pick her brain.  Save for being able to have my momma back and do a duet with her, Bobbie Gentry would have to be it for me if I could work with anyone out there.”

Friday, August 22, 2014


In a world full of justice and fairness Drew Kennedy would be one of the most revered musicians around. Alas, wee do not in a perfect world and only those fine people with musical tastes that are more sophisticated have managed to find the hidden gem that is DK music. I have long been a fan of Drew and his music. He is one of the musicians who I truly see as an artist. His music truly is auditory art.

His latest project, Sad Songs Happily Played, was an accident of sorts. Drew let it be known that the live recording that makes up the album was quite unintended at the time. He had envisioned soon doing a live recording at some point and says he had intended to discuss the venture with one particular venue he thought would be perfect for doing so. Alas he played a show and forgot to ask the venue about recording it for an album. But as fate would have it, just as Drew had forgotten to ask the venue to record the show, the sound guy had forgotten to ask for permission to record it. The show that was destined to be his live record had just been played and had indeed been recorded that night.

What was caught was possibly one of the truest live recordings I have ever heard. Drew simply performed to that crowd and told them his stories. With Drew not knowing he was being recorded, you get exactly what a crowd will get from him during his shows. Honesty. Sincerity. Great music.You can see exactly what makes him a true artist as he effortlessly paints vivid pictures and tells his stories with his music. His connection to that crowd on that night was genuine and not for the sake of a good live record.

So there you have it. Drew didn't reinvent the wheel here. A live album should give you a sense of what being at that show was like. On Sad Songs Happily Played there is a man, a guitar and some songs. It may be simple, but it is the perfect representation of Drew and his music. Look for the album on Sept 9th.

for more on Drew Kennedy go HERE
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014


To quote the band bio "The Washers' sound isn't forthrightly rock and roll, country, folk, or any other discerning genre you want to place it directly in….it bounces from each to the next, floats somewhere between, and fits easiest in the ever-changing boundaries of music called Americana". No way I could have said it better.

I took notice of the band with the release of their second album Tired Eyes in 2012. That album was full of catchy tunes and great harmonies woven throughout well written songs that went to prove these guys know what works for them. With  their upcoming release Everything at Once The Washers have only shown that they have gotten better with time and continue fine tune their sound.

Everything at Once runs through the usual song subject matter of love, love lost, small hometowns and big dreams. The band's sharing of lead vocal duties though helps to keep the album fresh and keeps the listeners ear. No matter who is in charge of lead vocals the band never skips a beat and it is a seamless transition that adds great variety and manages to change the album's tone and mood to match each song as the album runs it's course.

The song "Pennies" below will be the first single off of the album that is due out 9-2-2014. This is just a small sample of what is in store on this album, so make sure you pick it up on release day.

The Washers are: Todd Janik (guitar/vocals), Matt Kopycinski (bass/vocals), Justin Wade Wilcox (guitar/banjo/steel guitar/vocals) and Mike Faltysek (drums)

Todd took time last week to sit down and answer our RDBC 5 Quick Questions.

1. Pirates or ninjas? Why?

TODD: It’s a pirate’s life for me, dude. My grandmother made me a pirate costume for Halloween when I was a kid and my mom swears I didn't take it off for like 2 years.

2.What is the stupidest thing that you have done in front of a crowd?

TODD: I’ve forgotten the lyrics to my own songs on several occasion, I guess that’s pretty stupid. And I’m definitely not pro enough to pull it off…I just end up humming along or filling in spots with words like “cheeseburger”.

3.If you were in a witness protection program, what would be your alias?

TODD: James Hetfield. Yes, I like Metallica.

4.If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?

TODD: Jack Black— preeeeeetty sure we would be best friends.

5. Most guilty pleasure song in your collection.

TODD: You’re gonna kill me on this one…Florida Georgia Line- Round Here. A very guilty pleasure indeed, but so damn catchy!


or check them out on Facebook and Twitter

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Every now and then something gets sent my way that not only surprises me by how good it is but also surprises me by how fast I can tell I like it. Today was one of those days.

The new album from Mike Ryan hit my inbox today and I have given it a listen a couple times through. I won't go into a ton of "this is the best part" or "this song was yada yada" type stuff. I don't need to. Anything I say to build up this album is unnecessary. Simply put, it is one solid effort from beginning to end.

One thing kept hitting me and that was how much it reminded me of my favorite 80's- 90's country tunes. A point reiterated in the press release that accompanied the album almost word for word. Well written and polished to a near perfect sheen, Ryan's Bad Reputation album should easily garner tons of well deserved attention as there isn't one song here that isn't a radio ready hit. Look for it when it hits stores and online sales outlets Aug 19th.

The first link here is the current single "Dancing All Around It"

This video here is an acoustic version of my favorite track "Easy"

For more on Mike Ryan go here

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Brandon Rhyder has been a staple in the Texas music scene for over a decade. He is one of those artists that does his thing and does it well. He isn't out to reinvent the wheel with every album or buy into every "what's hot right now" song trend. You won't find many party songs or too many girl in a truck references in his music. His music is now like it was from the very beginning. Simple, timeless, well written and effortlessly classy. In a review that I wrote for another website after the release of his latest single "Leave" I said that Rhyder has managed to set a new standard and I firmly believe that today. The song brought him another hit on the Texas music charts and the video for it is below.

Brandon took some time out of his busy day to answer our 5 random as hell questions (which will be updated next round) and was a great sport about it.

5Q2- Brandon Rhyder

1. Would you rather have the power to be invisible or the power to read minds and why?
Power to be invisible for sure... Just disappear... Lol... And I don't want to know other people are thinking period... I have a hard enough time making sense of what's running around in my own mind.

2. When someone has bad breath do you tell them or try and ignore it?
I usually get myself a stick of gum and offer them one... I chew a lot of gum... Always on hand. Saved many a conversation!

3. What’s something you keep telling yourself you’re going to do, but keep putting off?
An acoustic record... I promise I'm cutting one! 

4.You discover a crystal ball that can tell you the truth about ONE thing in your life– past, future, or present.  What would you want to know?
How long we could live off of love alone...

5. List 5 things you want to do before you die.
Live in the mountains - write a book - shoot an elk with my bow - own a restaurant - hold my great grand kids

For more info and tour dates go to