Band: Marlow Boys Album Release Party
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m.
Venue: Callaghan’s Irish Social Club, 916 Charleston St., www.callaghansirishsocialclub.com
Tickets: Call 251-433-9374 for more info.
Phil Proctor and Stan Foster are familiar faces on the local music scene. Over the years, both musicians have been go-to sources for bluegrass, folk and country. As both a solo artist and a member of the Dog River Boys, Proctor’s string work has established his reputation as a skilled Americana artist. Foster’s bass kept the beat in the legendary bluegrass outfit Rollin’ in the Hay. Now, Proctor and Foster have joined with Karl Langley (Kyle & Karl) and his cousin Joe Langley in a project known as the Marlow Boys.
Many locals have already sampled this band’s versatile sounds at their monthly gig at Callaghan’s Irish Social Club. But with their recorded debut “Green Room, Volume 1” on the way, the Marlow Boys’ reputation might soon be spreading beyond Mobile.
Deluxe Trio could be considered a precursor to the new four-piece, where Proctor and Foster first collaborated. Throughout their time with the trio, both shared a desire to delve more into original compositions. However, Deluxe Trio focused more on covers.
“Any given night here, we’d play three or four original songs, and that was it,” Proctor said. “So Marlow Boys became the outlet for that. Stan and I do original stuff here that’s country sounds, but I’ve written rock songs. We could’ve done them in Deluxe Trio, but it wasn’t happening.”
After the third member of Deluxe Trio, Steve Varnes, retired from performing, Proctor and Foster began plotting their next move, which was pooling their talents with fellow scene veteran Karl Langley. Langley also wanted to create original music and suggested tapping his cousin Joe to complete the mix. Foster says Joe also brought a wealth of original material and talent to the Marlow Boys.
“Karl said, ‘Hey, my cousin Joe has written a million songs,’” Foster said. “We started hearing some of these songs. We went over and played with him at church one day, and we were like, ‘Holy cow! This guy sings great and writes great songs!’ I guess you called him the magic in the Marlow Boys. He plays the harmonica great, and he sings great.”
With the lineup in place, the Marlow Boys began their monthly performances at Callaghan’s. They also began working on the tracks for “Green Room, Volume 1” at Karl’s Green Room Studio. The album’s creation was not without obstacles. All four members have very full schedules. Each works with other bands as well as having a day job. While some would view this as not conducive to producing an album, the Marlow Boys turned their hectic lives into a beneficial aspect of the process.
“We were wanting to get stuff done and out, but we would have to sit back, because schedules would change,” Foster said. “We would give it a couple of weeks and go back in and listen to [the recording]. We would hear something else and be like, ‘I think we need to change that.’ It gave us the time to fine-tune it, even though we went about things the long way. We got here, but we went around the horn to get there.”
“Green Room, Volume 1” is a truly collaborative project, with all of the members’ respective musical talents pooled into one album. Both Proctor and Foster note the vocal strength of the band, with all harmonies beautifully balanced and leads shared by all members. In addition to their vocals, the Marlow Boys also utilize each member’s respective instrumental talents, especially when it comes to solos.
“As far as solo instruments go, we’ve got a mandolin, electric guitar, lap steel and harmonica,” Foster said. “We’ve got those instruments playing solos, so not every song has an electric solo. We have variety. Why not use it?”
The Marlow Boys’ collaborative efforts go beyond instrumental arrangements, with all four contributing original songs to the album. The five songs maintain cohesion while exploring various musical styles. Joe Langley’s “She’s More” opens the album with its classic honky-tonk sound, and he closes the album with the beautiful country ballad “Love, Love, Love.” Foster bring a little of the blues into “Green Room, Volume 1” with “Used to Do Me Right.”
While best known for his earthier sounds, Proctor shows a side of his musical psyche many may not have experienced; his “Love Me” and “Halfway Home” are great country rock anthems that display Proctor’s skills on the electric guitar.
“I like playing rock ’n’ roll. I like to turn up, somewhat,” Proctor said. “I get to do that in this band. It’s been a good while since I’ve been in a four-piece band where there’s somebody else playing rhythm.”
According to Proctor and Foster, the Marlow Boys are just getting started. Even with 20 unreleased songs in their repertoire, the two admit new songs are constantly being added. With so much talent and material, Proctor says their audience can expect both a “Volume 2” and a “Volume 3,” which Foster thinks will come sooner rather than later.
“Now that we’ve done ‘Volume 1,’ we’re thinking volume two is going to be quicker,” Foster said. “A lot of it, we pinned it down to where we’re not flooded with so many options. We had so many options for awhile. Now that we’ve played these songs, we know it’s going to work. The themes of the songs have developed while we’ve played them live.”
While a majority of their focus is on the Marlow Boys, Proctor and Foster are also getting ready to release a Phil & Foster live album, which they hope will happen before Christmas. This album documents their live performance at Callaghan’s on July 7 of this year. Rick Hirsch and Will Isherwood helped the duo capture the performance. In addition to Phil & Foster, the album will feature Andy MacDonald (Fat Man Squeeze), Donna Hall (Wet Willie) and Tim Dennis (Peek) as well as percussionists Joel F. Andrews and Jose Santiago.
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