It was none other than legendary country rock producer/steel
player Lloyd Maines (Joe Ely, Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Abra Moore) who discovered
The Groobees in Amarillo, TX while he was looking for song material for an important
major label project on the Monument label. The classic sixties country/pop label
(Tony Joe White, Roy Orbison) was being relaunched and the popular female country-pop
trio The Dixie Chicks was the first new signing. Maines knew exactly what he
was looking for, as his own daughter Natalie was "one of the girls"
in the band....
His ears trained to identify songwriting excellence and with just the right feel to discove young quality artists, Lloyd Maines was instantly attracted by the sound of this new band from his home town Amarillo, Texas with the somehow strange name of The Groobees. Their song "Wide Open Spaces" not only seemed perfect for The Dixie Chicks and a commercial success could also provide some well-accepted financial support for The Groobees as well. The band's debut album ("Flying Machine") had been a low budget affair released in May of 1996. The second effort sould at least have a proper production.
That's how the deal was made. The Dixie Chicks recorded "Wide Open Spaces" as a title track for their major label debut, and Maines produced the second Groobees album WAYSIDE in turn. As the spectacular success story of the Dixie Chicks slowly unfolded - culminating in their Grammy-winning triumph in early 1999 - WAYSIDE was elected among the dozen best US independent rock performances. No bad for a bunch of unknowns! So what does this band sound like?
The founding element of The Groobees' roots-pop/country-rock fusion is provided by the combined talents of multi-instrumentalist/songwriting duo Susan Gibson and Scott Melott, supported by guitar-player/singer Gary Thomason. The band's line-up is completed by the rhythm section of Michael Devers and Todd Hall, with occasional steel player Jim Whisenhunt added as a special flavor. The band's sound is dominanted by excellent three-guitar arrangements, great hook-lines, and a nice touch of 70s retro with precise vocal harmonies featuring the Natalie Merchant-like timbre of frontwoman Susan Gibson.
Naturally, WAYSIDE includes the band's own version of "Wide Open Spaces" and is a testimony to the great recording facilities of Austin's historic Cedar Creek Studios. Following his excellent job on Shawn Colvin's "A Few Small Repairs" album, the great Fred Remmert engineered and Lloyd Maines himself contributed some tasty pedal-steel licks. Stateside feedback has been very encouraging. The band is booked solidly and has appeared with well-known acts like Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, Rosie Flores, Charlie & Will Sexton, and not to anyone's surprise, the Dixie Chicks. If there's a new Texas band with the potential of taking some of the already fading "Americana/No Depression" sounds into the charts, it only could be The Groobees.
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