Photo | facebook.com/RedClayStrays
Best Local Band & Best Country Band: The Red Clay Strays
Over the past 10 years, the Azalea City country scene has begun to flourish with a number of impressive up-and-coming artists. However, one group has continued to add followers to its energetic fanbase: Skate Mountain Records’ The Red Clay Strays has taken home the Nappie Award for not only “Best Local Band” but also “Best Country Band/Performer.”
Since forming in 2016, Brandon Coleman (guitar/vocals/piano), Zach Rishel (lead guitar), Drew Nix (guitar/harmonica/vocals), Andrew Bishop (bass) and John W. Hall (drums) have crafted an edgy style of contemporary country that delves into the classic styles of icons such as Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings.
The Strays match this sound with an electrifying, unforgettable live delivery. This winning formula is all the evidence needed to understand why this group is taking two awards in the 2019 Nappie Awards. For Nix, the ever-growing audiences at The Red Clay Strays live shows are already rewarding.
“[Winning a Nappie has] kinda been in the back of our minds for a little while,” Nix said. “It’s never been like we had to win this to prove anything to anybody, but out of all the talent in the area, it feels good to get recognized that way.”
Now that the band has a large, solid following in Mobile, The Red Clay Strays have been spending as much time as possible on the road. The group spent 2019 branching into a long list of cities that include Austin, Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans. Along the way, The Red Clay Strays have been paying the obligatory road dues that all touring, up-and-coming bands experience. Because of issues with the band’s tour bus, The Red Clay Strays used two vehicles for a one-month tour through Texas. However, the rewards of touring outweigh any complications or mishaps that they may face.
“Being out on the road and actually playing to new people gives you a new perspective on how you’re doing as an artist and whether people like it or not,” Nix said. “If they like it, then it reaffirms that you’re doing something right. We’re meeting new people and seeing new places, and everything about it is really amazing.”
The Red Clay Strays’ dedication to the road has not rewarded them just in terms of listeners. A recent show in Boston brought Music Row publishing veterans Bobby Rymer and Jimmy Metts to the Strays’ stage. After witnessing the band’s sound, Rymer and Metts added them to their 21 Management roster. Rymer and Metts also introduced the band to Cody Payne of Conway Entertainment Group. Nix says that Payne has made it his mission to keep the band’s tour schedule full.
All that The Red Clay Strays is missing is a studio album. Nix says that the band has completed recording their album with Nashville session artist Jeff King, who has lent his guitar to artists such as Reba McEntire, Randy Travis and Johnny Cash. They plan on releasing their long-awaited album in the fall. Until then, a Strays live show is the perfect way to experience the band’s Azalea City country sounds.
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