For more than 20 years, Gretsch Lyles and his band The Modern Eldorados have been traversing the globe with a traditional Americana sound born and bred on the Gulf Coast. Lyles has infused his music with a mixture of plucky twang and velveteen vocals centered on old school country sensibilities. However, Lyles does not owe the longevity of this band strictly to his sound. He also thinks that attitude on and off the stage is important.
“We’ve been really lucky,” Lyles said. “If you treat people well, then they’re inclined to treat you well. That’s been one of the best assets that we’ve had as a band. We’ve been well-mannered or attempted to be well-mannered. Most people remember how you treat them after the show.”
The Modern Eldorados accent their music with a stage performance that is a truly unforgettable throwback to the glory days of rockabilly and country.
As a boy, Lyles would keenly observe his grandfather and his friends as they performed. In addition, he also found muses in the icons of country as he watched episodes of “The Johnny Cash Show” and “The Porter Wagoner Show.” With an appreciation of those who came before him, Lyles and his band mates have perfected their stage performance and have an abundance of original music. Lyles could not be happier with the current state of The Modern Eldorados.
“It’s closer now to what I wanted it to sound like almost 20 years ago,” Lyles said. “I’ve got a really great line-up now and a lot of original material. Twenty years ago, I only had a handful of original material. I’ve got the band looking like I wanted the band to look, as far as matching suits and trying to do things as traditional as I can.”
This concoction of sorts has earned him a dedicated fan base not only in America but also in Europe, especially in the Netherlands. Recently, The Modern Eldorados made their fifth trip to Europe in two years, and Lyles is quick to admit that this one was the most memorable. He explained that the group is “well-oiled” at this point, and the European crowd could not get enough. Many music critics may have their theories on why the Europeans are so obsessed with classic American sounds, but Lyles has a more simple explanation.
“With the weather being as cold and rainy as it is, people are indoors a whole lot more than they are over here,” Lyles explained. “I think that it gives them time to roam the Internet a lot. When you’re cooped up in the house, you look for things to do. When you get over there, they know all the details of people like Johnny Cash. They have to time to read and read and read. They have a different level of fascination as compared to those domestically.”
While the Europeans may be known for embracing American roots sounds, Lyle does not see much difference between them and the domestic crowd, as long as he remembers his job is the same no matter the time zone.
“People may get analytical about it (the European love for American roots music), but my job stays the same everywhere I go,” Lyles said. “My job is to play American roots music and country music.”
The Modern Eldorados’ first offering was 2007’s “The Rockmart Demos.” At the time, the band did not have any music samples for promoters and booking agents. The band travelled to Nashville sessions veteran Rex Garner’s studio in Rockmart, Ga. The band employed all the vintage equipment that they could find and created a five-song EP that was drenched in old school attitude. While this was as suitable release for the time, Lyles always viewed “The Rockmart Demos” as strictly a promotional tool.
When it came to releasing a full-length album, Lyles knew he had to do things right. He wanted to create an album that was a perfect representation of not only his music but also himself. After 20 years of performing, Lyles did not want to release a “mediocre product.”
Travelling to Nashville was the natural thing to do. Lyles spent the past year in Music City recording the tracks for what would be his self-titled debut. While there, he surrounded himself with a group of seasoned musicians who had spent time performing with notable country stars, such as Marty Stuart and Hank Williams. As label talks began, the album began to be entrenched in a world filled with lawyers and debates over distribution. Lyles quickly became disenchanted with the process and decided to delay a full release. However, he did press 300 copies to take to Europe, which he sold quickly. He saw this decision as a necessity.
“Over there, they don’t forgive you if you come without a product,” Lyles said. “They get on your case if you don’t bring something to leave with them, which is very flattering.”
Lyles went on to reveal that his self-titled debut would have a full release in the United States over the next few months. Until then, the public can experience the new sounds of The Modern Eldorados during their set at BayFest. In addition to the new music, the BayFest crowd can also expect them to bring back all the majesty of old school country with a nostalgic stage presence that has helped bring them popularity worldwide.
“Not to sound egotistical, I really just love being able to do that, as far as being able to entertain,” Lyles said. “It means the world to me to go play rockabilly and country. Whenever I’m playing, there’s no other place that I rather be.”
Band: Gretsch Lyles & the Modern Eldorados
Date: Sun., Oct. 6 at 2:45 p.m.
Stage: AT&T/Southern Ford Dealers Stage