Gary Nicholson Joined By Asleep At The Wheel's Ray Benson and Joe Ely On New Album

05/10/2011
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(Conqueroo) Gary Nicholson's new album, Texas Songbook, which as the name implies pays homage to his home state, will hit stores on June 21st.

Gary Nicholson is a musical renaissance man a number one hit songwriter, a two time Grammy winning record producer, a guitarist, singer, and recording artist. A consistent presence on the upper reaches of the country chart hit parade for the last three decades, his associations and collaborations read like an honor roll of notable talent in country and beyond: George Strait, Ringo Starr, Garth Brooks, Jeff Bridges, Robert Plant, B.B. King, Fleetwood Mac, Gregg Allman, The Judds, Buddy Guy, Neil Diamond, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Del McCoury, The Neville Brothers, Vince Gill, Delbert McClinton, Etta James, John Prine, Keb' Mo', Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson among them. His songs have been heard in the movies Crazy Heart, Major League, City of Hope, Message in a Bottle and Where the Heart Is. "I'm always curious about working with different people and styles," he says.

He is also a true blue son of the Lone Star State whose love and pride for the place he calls home brims from every track of his Bismeaux Records album, Texas Songbook, due out June 21, 2011. Recorded in Austin with some of the finest players in the state, it features such guest stars as Joe Ely, McClinton, Marcia Ball, Randy Rogers, Ray Benson and Jason Roberts of Asleep at the Wheel on songs inspired by or about Texas by Nicholson himself and penned with Texans like the late Stephen Bruton, McClinton, Guy Clark, Lee Roy Parnell and others. It's sure to satisfy anyone with a taste for swinging, two-stepping, and dancehall and honky-tonk style Lone Star country music.

The album leaps into a Lone Star state of mind from the opening track, "Texas Weather," and keeps the theme dancing though "She Feels Like Texas," "A Woman in Texas, A Woman in Tennessee," "Lone Star Blues" (with Ely and Benson singing along, and just recorded by George Strait for his next album), "Talkin' Texan" and "Texas Ruby" (with Ball on piano). The set includes the signature song "Fallin' & Flyin'" from Crazy Heart, the infectiously swinging "Messin' With My Woman" (with backing vocals by Benson and Roberts), "Same Kind of Crazy" (written with McClinton, who plays harmonica on the track and cut the song, as did George Strait on his Twang album), and "Listen to Willie" (a tribute to the Red-Haired Stranger with Stoney LaRue and Benson on vocals and Mickey Raphael on harmonica). It wraps up with "Bless Them All" (with the McCrary Sisters), "Live, Laugh, Love" (previously recorded by Texan Clay Walker), and the closing grace note of "Some Days You Write the Song" (the title song of the Grammy-nominated Guy Clark album, co-written with Clark and Jon Randall Stewart).

Nicholson's impetus for making Texas Songbook was his recent induction into the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame. "I've always wanted to make a truly country record," he says of his fourth release in his own right. "So I figured, okay, if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this in Texas with all Texas players and with songs co-written by Texans. I'm just going to make the most Texas record I can possibly make and have fun doing it."

To do so, the first and only choice was to "go straight to Ray Benson." Recorded at Benson's Bismeaux Studio, the disc features Asleep at the Wheel members and associates Roberts (fiddle), David Sanger (drums), Floyd Domino (piano) and Kevin Smith (bass) as well as steel guitarist Tommy Detamore and accordion player Joel Guzman. "I couldn't have made this record in Nashville and gotten this music," notes Nicholson, a Music City resident for now more than three decades. "I could have come close. But I knew I could only make this album in Texas." Plus for good measure include in the creative mix some honorary Texans from the state's "north 40" of Oklahoma like guest singer and Lone Star/Red Dirt music scene hero LaRue and Kevin Welch, co-writer of "Listen to Willie" and now residing in the Hill Country town of Wimberley.

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