The Eighties made for mighty strange bedfellows, especially after punk rewrote the rules of rock engagement in the late Seventies. You could grow up loving all things country, then reject it for rock & roll, only to find country still in your blood. Just ask Stevie Tombstone, playing tonight at Giddy Ups.
Maybe that’s just a Twitter-feed version of the Marietta, Georgia, native’s career, which rightly accounts for his pure country influences via parents who were music fans themselves. Young Stevie met Dolly Parton, Roy Acuff, and Loretta Lynn.
His teens then brought rebellion and rock & roll in equal doses, especially with the arrival of punk in the South. For his efforts, he became a regional hero who wrote the anthemic “Nobody,” later recorded by Stiv Bators. Road adventures with his swamp rockabilly band the Tombstones made Austin an indelible part of his story, written in tattoo ink and mapped by miles and miles of Texas.
In the years since the Tombstones toured Europe with Jason & the Scorchers and recorded Preachin’, Prayin’, Guitar Playin’, Tombstone himself produced righteous roots rock, hammered with strum and twang, and sung with conviction.
He contacted me last fall via a mutual friend and we emailed intermittently, trading news about what’s what. I asked what he’s up to and received this reply:
“After scaling back my traveling and recording for a few years, it’s been quite interesting seeing how much the business has changed and where I fit in these days.
“I just recorded and released two records and shot four music videos. I think the break was good to realign and write. It’s more than I’ve done in quite a while, but the climate seemed right to jump back in.
“At present, I'm promoting Greenwood. It was my first time in years working in a big studio, but I think we managed to color within the lines. Greenwood runs 11 tracks. The title cut is a tale about the trip I took to Mississippi in the early Nineties along with my buddy Rick Richards and blues legend Johnny Shines.
“We went down to deliver a gravestone for the then unhonored Robert Johnson. It was a strange experience and we were not well received.”
“The songs on Greenwood are fairly personal without being too introspective. It’s nice and simple and has all my favorite elements of roots music. Other tunes are open letters to fans, family, and friends alike.”
That’s you, Austin. Kudos to Giddy Ups for this under the radar booking down south.
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