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    So what happens when you grow up with country music legend Willie Nelson as a grandfather?  I guess you come out fronting a garage-punk-country band like Raelyn Nelson. 

    In a city surrounded by aspiring female country singers she continues to work to stand out from the crowd, even with her regal last name.  According to her she gets more notoriety for her band of studio heavyweights than her family name, “People stop all the time and say aren’t you that girl that plays with J.B. and them?  You don’t know how lucky you are to play with those boys.”  Jonathan Bright, Paulie Simmons, and Preach Rutherford make up the other three-quarters of the Raelyn Nelson Band.

    The band isn’t working on their debut album, that would be too easy, too normal – and it just might get lost in the Nashville shuffle, so she’s taking a different approach with her music.  Every month for the rest of the year, the Raelyn Nelson Band will be releasing a new single and a new video via her website, facebook, and various other forms of social media.  “I just had to find a way to bring music to the people differently, you have to mix it up,” Nelson says of her band’s unique approach.  “And I remembered when I was a kid if I could constantly see what my favorite artists were up to, instead a new album once every couple of years it would be awesome.  So that’s what we’re doing, a new single and a new video every single month.”

    She took time to call from Nashville to talk to us about her life and music, before her upcoming show here in Louisville at Hard Rock Café.  She will take the stage at the Hard Rock after party kicking off at approximately 11 PM (as soon as the street concert is over) on Thursday April 30th, admission to the show is Free.  Have you ever been to Louisville before?
    Raelyn Nelon:  I have been to Louisville, my granddad has played there a lot so I’ve been up to see his shows.  But we’ve never played there before, I think we’ve played Bowling Green.  Have you spent much time with Kentucky Bourbon?
    RN:  I have spent a lot of time with bourbon, but not a lot of time there with your bourbon.  Bourbon can be enjoyed anywhere, it’s ok.
    RN:  Bourbon whiskey is definitely my drink of choice in the wintertime, for sure.  Growing up who were the artists that inspired you to play music?
    RN:  OK, well Loretta Lynn was my favorite, I just love her style and how she pushed the buttons a little bit with what she was talking about.  How she was just real.  And then I love old country melodies – when I was little my mom sheltered me a little bit and kept me listening only to classic country, gospel, and Christian music so that was what I listened to when I was young.  So naturally when I write music it comes out with those very classic melodies, the country shuffles, Papa Willie’s sound.  And now that I’m playing with a rock band that’s what they do, they just rock up that classic country sound.  When did you know music was going to be your thing?
    RN:  Well I always had music lessons and voice lessons, and did things on the side.  But it came late for me ultimately – I got married real young (she has since divorced) and started having babies (she has two children), and as soon as I had them these melodies and songs just started popping into my head, so I had to get them out somehow.  That was when I was twenty-two.  Was there pressure from the family, being a musical bunch, to move into music?
    RN:  Noooo.  None.  Not at all.  It was always there and because of that, I think a lot of us tried to get away from it but ultimately we all got drawn back toward the creative stuff.  It’s so much fun, how do you not do it?  Do you prefer being on-stage or in the studio?
    RN:  I like being on-stage.  That feeling is addicting, that adrenaline rush you get when you’re playing.  The studio is a working thing, because you have this sound in your head that you want the song to sound like, and when it’s not coming out like what you hear in your head it’s awful.  But don’t get me wrong, I’d still rather be in the studio working than sitting behind a desk all day.  How do you know when a song is ready to go to the studio?
    RN:  You don’t.  With us, we usually record a song three or four times in three or four different ways.  Because you’re taking nothing and creating something out of it.  So it’s always changing and evolving from when you first write something until other people get to hear it.  Where did the song “Brother” come from?
    RN:  I had the lines:  “I can’t breathe but I’m still smokin’, I’m so high but I keep tokin’, I’m so drunk but I’m still drinkin’.”  And I didn’t quite know where I wanted that song to go, and I was watching a t.v. where a girl’s boyfriend cheated on her, so she went and got her three older brothers, and they started chasin’ him around town.  And I couldn’t think of any song where someone had told their brother about an unfaithful lover.  Do your kids know who their Great-Grandfather is?
    RN:  Well, Papa Willie played the Ryman here a couple of weeks ago and I got to take them out on the stage.  I had never taken the out on stage before because they were really little, so I usually would stay back on the bus with them.  But this time I took them out this time and they got to see my uncles on-stage playing with Willie, and they were dancing, and making faces at them; and it took me back to being a kid and dancing on-stage with Papa-Willie, it was a really cool moment.  I live for those moments.

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    About Brent Owen

    Born and raised in Louisville, I have lived here most of my life (except during a short furlough, when I, lovelorn and naive, followed a girl to Baton Rouge). My roots are here, my family, my friends, and my life are all here. I work primarily as a free-lance writer for a few local and regional publications. I have also written two books (one a memoir, the other a novel) that barring some divine intervention, will probably never see the light of day. I find myself deeply ingrained in the local bar scene, or perhaps better said, I often indulge in the local drinking culture. I love music, movies, comedy, and really just about any other live performance art.

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