Jason Eady and Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley

Jason Eady and Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley

Thu Nov 15

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:30 pm

$12.00 - $17.00

This event is all ages

For any wheelchair or ADA needs, please contact the Box Office in advance of the performance at (443) 283-1200.

 

Jason Eady
Jason Eady
Since the 2005 release of his debut album, Mississippi-bred singer/guitarist Jason Eady has brought a rare balance of unguarded honesty and poetic sophistication to his songwriting. With his catalog spanning from blues-infused Americana to bare-bones reimagining of classic country, Eady’s seventh full-length takes on a looser, livelier, more groove-driven sound than ever before. But while I Travel On brims with a feel-good spontaneity, the Fort Worth-based artist continues to instill each song with the subtle insight and emotional depth that makes his music so powerful. The follow-up to his 2017 self-titled effort, I Travel On marks the first time that Eady’s recorded an album with his road band—a lineup whose rhythm section is made up of musicians from an R&B/roots background, and whose lead players hail from the bluegrass world. With Grammy Award-nominated duo Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley joining them in the studio, I Travel On wholly captures the unbridled energy and kinetic camaraderie that the band’s recently displayed in their relentless touring and in sharing stages with the likes of Sturgill Simpson. “One of the best things about making this album is that it was all done live—just six guys with acoustic instruments sitting in a room together, playing these songs we’d been working out for a while on the road,” says Eady. “It was a much different and more organic process than hiring studio musicians and then making an album right after you’ve met each other.” In another departure from his previous work (including 2014’s critically lauded Daylight & Dark and 2012’s AM Country Heaven, a top 40 debut on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart), Eady wrote most of I Travel On in a month-long burst of creativity. “Normally I take my pick of the songs I’ve come up with since the last album, but this time I was writing specifically for this record,” he says. “And because the album’s so groove-centered, I focused on the way words
rolled off the tongue and how they moved with the music. If something felt good to sing, I just let it be instead of going back and editing myself like I might’ve done in the past.” Co-produced with Eady’s longtime collaborator Kevin Welch and recorded at the Blueroom Studios in Nashville, I Travel On instantly proves the power of that approach with “I Lost My Mind in Carolina”: a joyfully stomping album-opener that recounts the band’s on-the-road hellraising in the city of Charleston. On lead single “Calaveras County,” Eady details their wanderings in California Gold Country, paying homage to its Wild West ruggedness as the song unfolds in tumbling guitar lines and big-hearted harmonies featuring Eady’s wife, Courtney Patton. Although much of the album speaks to “enjoying the journey you’re on rather than wishing you were somewhere else,” I Travel On explores everything from the indiscriminate destruction of natural disasters (on “Below the Waterline,” a gently devastating bluegrass waltz co-written with Patton) to the foolishness in “playing life so safe you forget to actually live” (on the gloriously gritty “Pretty When I Die,” co-written with singer/songwriter Justin Wells). And on the hypnotic and haunting “Always a Woman,” Eady begins by offering a darkly charged reflection on love and regret, then shifts into a mood that’s far more hopeful but equally intense. No matter what emotional terrain he’s treading, Eady imbues each track on I Travel On with a
brightness of spirit. “Even on the sad songs, there’s always a positive spin,” he points out. In adding that spin to the album’s more heavy-hearted moments, Eady shows an elegance of songcraft that traces back to his musical coming-of-age, when he’d carefully study the writing of such artists as Merle Haggard and Guy Clark. Growing up in Jackson, he got his start gigging in bars at age 14, then moved to Fort Worth and began playing open mic nights after spending six years in the Air Force. As he gained a devoted following, Eady self-released From Underneath the
Old in 2005 and steadily expanded his touring radius. Later, with the release of Jason Eady, he earned acclaim from outlets like Rolling Stone, who hailed the album as “[h]eavily steeped in his storyteller lyrical style and cleverly framed by uncluttered, acoustic-rich arrangements.” From song to song, I Travel On reveals an artist hitting a new stride by fully embracing his instincts. “Over the last couple of albums I’ve relaxed into trusting myself and doing what feels right,” he says. “I haven’t added anything to the process—I just keep peeling more and more
away, so that all that matters is whatever song I need to write right now.” And in closing out with the album’s lilting but determined title track, Eady purposely chose an open ending for I Travel On. “I like how nothing gets wrapped up at the end of the record,” he says. “It’s my way of saying I’m going to keep on doing this—I’m okay with this path that I’ve chosen, and I’m just going to keep moving on.”
Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley
Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley
Some things you know are just meant to be—but even when you do, it’s nice to get some outside affirmation. So while Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley were sure that their musical partnership was the right move at the right time, it was still welcome news when their debut Compass Records project, Before The Sun Goes Down, earned a nomination for the Best Bluegrass Album Grammy just about the time that Ickes took leave of the band he’d been in for over 20 years to make the joint venture the centerpiece of his career. And with the release of their new project, The Country Blues on July 8th the pair build on the first one’s strengths to take their unique musical conversation to an even higher level.
“Rob’s helping me to explore more of what to play and when to play it,” says Hensley, who’s made the transition from hot-shot guitar phenom to well-rounded instrumental and vocal powerhouse look easy. “I’ve been in a band for so long that I’m really enjoying the simplicity of the duo thing—and Trey’s done a lot of band stuff, too, so we’re on the same page,” responds Ickes, whose award-winning resonator guitar work not only helped to power famed bluegrass ensemble Blue Highway for two decades, but appears on hundreds of bluegrass and country albums. That same page extends to the other musicians who complement their work, starting with bassist Mike Bub and drummer John Alvey, who regularly accompany Ickes and Hensley on gigs around Nashville. “It works in so many different ways, we’ve done it duo, we’ve done some gigs with just John, we’ve done four piece, and we’ve done five piece with a fiddle,” notes Ickes. “Trey and I have always clicked, and when he and I know what’s going on, everyone else just grabs on—and that’s kind of the fun of the gig, it’s constantly changing.”
That fun pervades the 11 tracks on The Country Blues, even when the subject matter’s as mournful as the post-romance desolation of Hank Williams’ classic “May You Never Be Alone.” “I hate to use the word,” Ickes chuckles, “but we really did pick the material organically. Our gigs in town have acted as a workshop—you can try something new during a show at the Station Inn and work it out right there. So when we got into the studio, we just blasted through, doing a few takes of each song, without stopping for anyone to fix anything. And then Trey and I went through the takes to make our choices.”
That organic approach served well as recording sessions with regulars Mike Bub (bass) and John Alvey (drums) and a select handful of instrumental and vocal guests that included the likes of Vince Gill and Carl Jackson were sandwiched between long stints on the road as a duo. The unusual schedule allowed Hensley and Ickes to take what they were exploring on stages across the country and around the world into the studio, and the result is a set that expands the already wide-ranging palette of Before The Sun Goes Down in even more directions. “This guy is so versatile,” Ickes says of Hensley, “that we can do just about anything. The bluegrass stuff can sound really straight ahead, but then we can do something in the vein of the Allman Brothers, and that’ll sound authentic, too. We could do a Bob Wills album, and that would be great as well—I haven’t found anything he can’t do.”
Want proof? Check out the powerful Sonny Boy Williamson blues shouter, “One Way Out,” or the mixed regret and determination of “Won’t Give Up My Train,” memorably recorded years ago by Merle Haggard, or the ‘grassy dexterity of their original, “Everywhere I Go.” Need more? How about the insouciant funk of “Never Can Pray Enough,” imported from the Wood Brothers, or the southern rock of Charlie Daniels on “Willie Jones?” Then there’s the jazzy tour de force instrumental, “Biscuits And Gravy,” written by Ickes as a kind of tribute to pedal steel master Buddy Emmons and so much more; there’s even a nod to the Grateful Dead in “Friend Of The Devil,” a dazzling staple of the duo’s live shows.
Indeed, though the contributions from Alvey, Bub and the rest of a short but sweet list of friends who helped out complement the duo’s exciting work, there’s no doubt that it’s Ickes and Hensley who are front and center on The Country Blues—and that’s just how it should be. After all, when something’s meant to be, the best thing to do is to get out of the way and let it go.
Venue Information:
The Soundry
10221 Wincopin Circle
Columbia, MD, 21044