Oak Ridge Boys and Dukes of Dixieland Team Up

01/12/2012
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Oak Ridge Boys and Dukes of Dixieland have teamed up to record a new project entitled When Country Meets Dixie, which will be released February 28, 2012

We were sent the following backgroup: The blended, dynamic composition of "big band New Orleans jazz meets American barbershop gospel/country" is poised to inspire and entertain generations young and old with its swinging energy and "rhythmatic" performances featuring trumpet, trombone, clarinet and sax (baritone & tenor).

The impetus for the cross-genre project is the offspring of a casual dinner conversation between two friends, music industry powerhouses John Shoup and Jim Halsey.

Television producer/manager John Shoup, who has managed the New Orleans-based Dukes of Dixieland band for more than 38 years, posed the idea of the collaboration to impresario and star-maker Jim Halsey. (Halsey has guided the careers of world-renowned, award-winning recording artists Roy Clark, Waylon Jennings, Reba McEntire, Tammy Wynette, Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam, The Judds and The Righteous Brothers, and has managed the Oak Ridge Boys since the mid-70s.) Before coffee and dessert were served, When Country Meets Dixie was already in the mix.

The "Southern to the core" project was actualized with producer James Stroud signing on to lend his talents to the album.

"Initially, we wanted to have this little get-together to see if it worked musically," explains James Stroud, former head for Giant and Dreamworks Records, current CEO of R&J Records and producer of Tim McGraw, Toby Keith and Chris Young among many others. "We wanted to incorporate some of the sounds the Dukes brought from New Orleans and combine it with what the Oak Ridge Boys bring with their history and successes in gospel and country. The project wound up creating its own sound, its own brand. WHEN COUNTRY MEETS DIXIE is the result of two great American art forms colliding. It's the most unique thing that we may hear musically for a long time."

The magic began in January 2011. Current Dukes of Dixieland members (trumpeter Kevin Clark, trombonist Ben Smith, clarinetist/saxophonist Ryan Burrage, pianist Scott Obenschain, bassist Alan Broome and drummer JJ Juliano) joined the Grammy award-winning, and new to the Grand Ole Opry®, Oak Ridge Boys (Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, Richard Sterban and William Lee Golden) in a Nashville studio, The Tracking Room, where history was made.

"We hear the word 'legend' often in the music industry," the Oak Ridge Boys explain. "But, there are some acts that the four of us truly acknowledge as legendary. The Dukes have a unique chemistry and they have preserved the sounds of Dixieland in quintessential style to characterize their music as authentic 'feel-good' New Orleans jazz."

The two groups recorded four songs together, including a wholly unique remake of the Oak Ridge Boys' platinum-selling hit single from 1981, "Elvira," with an irresistibly funky ragtime groove fueling the proceedings. The American quartet contributes their distinctive "Oaks" four-part vocal harmonies to a freewheeling Dixie-fied rendition of "Little Talk With Jesus," a Professor Longhair-influenced rumba-boogie interpretation of their 1982 hit single "Bobbie Sue," and an authentic "N'awlins" street beat take on the gospel country tune "Unclouded Day."

Adding to the stellar collaboration are recordings from newcomers and veterans backed by the steady playing Dukes of Dixieland. Wesley Probst shares the Tennessee Ernie Ford novelty number "Fatback Louisiana" and Ernest Tubb's "Nails In My Coffin." Oklahoma native Bobby John Henry, who launched his career as a country crooner in the '50s, contributes a soulful performance on the mellow ballad "Back In New Orleans."

New Nashville talent includes Callaway McCord, a 20-year-old firecracker who kicks up the energy level a few notches on a rowdy, hard-driving medley of Hank Williams' "Jambalaya," Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin'" and Rockin' Sidney's zydeco classic "Don't Mess With My Toot Toot." Lathan Moore, a new face in Nashville, lends his appealing baritone voice to the anthemic "Are You From Dixie" (a tune originally written in 1915) and also turns in a moving rendition of "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" as well as "I Can't Fight The Moonlight" from the Lifetime TV movie, More Than Meets The Eye (written by Mark Bernard and Richard Addrisi--co-writer of the second most-performed song of all time, "Never My Love"). *"I Can't Fight The Moonlight" track attached below.

Nashville session ace David Spires is also featured on pedal steel guitar throughout, and the Dukes' pianist, Richard Scott Obenschain, contributes spirited vocals on the opener "That's What I Like About the South."

"All involved are masters of their craft and were unique in approach and style," added the Dukes. "Our idea was to present classic Country tunes with New Orleans grooves and improvised solos and ensembles. It was music magic that was meant to be."

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