Fountain Square, 520 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH
Free, 7pm (Chuck on at 8:30pm), All Ages
Chuck Mead has announced U.S. tour dates in support of his debut album for Nashville’s Plowboy Records, Free State Serenade, a wild ride of hillbilly blues and honky-tonk. Mead, best known for his work as frontman for BR549, wrote the album based on the stories, legends, crimes and lonesome open roads of his childhood and formative years in Kansas. Free State Serenade was recorded with his longtime band The Grassy Knoll Boys.
Free State Serenade jumps from jaunty mountain airs like “Neosho Valley Sue,” in which BR549’s Don Herron lends his fiddle to what Mead calls a “coming of age ditty,” to “Sittin’ on Top of the Bottom,” a whip-smart ode to “Sittin’ On Top of the World.” “The Devil By Their Side” is a dark, chugging rock ’n’ roll number about William Quantrill’s murderous 1863 Civil War raid of Lawrence, Kansas.
Mead co-founded three-time Grammy®–nominated alternative country band BR549, who got their start playing on Nashville’s Lower Broadway before recording seven full-length LPs and winning a Country Music Association Award. With BR on hiatus, Mead formed the Hillbilly All-Stars featuring members of the Mavericks, co-produced popular tribute albums to Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, guest-lectured at Vanderbilt University, and became a staff writer at one of Nashville’s top song publishers.
Mead also serves as music director for the hit Broadway show Million Dollar Quartet, currently touring throughout North America to rave reviews. Mead has released two solo albums, Journeyman’s Wager and Back at the Quonset Hut, with the Grassy Knoll Boys. Free State Serenade was co-produced with longtime friend Joe Pisapia (k.d. Lang, Ben Folds Five) and features BR549’s Don Herron and Old Crow Medicine Show’s Critter Fuqua.
According to Mead, “It’s been incredibly liberating to do all these things I’ve never done before. I’ve already gone from the bars of Lower Broadway in Nashville to the Broadway stage, and the upcoming album is one of the most unique and rewarding projects I’ve ever been a part of. I’m looking forward to where it all brings me next.”
Plowboy Records’ founders are Eddy Arnold’s grandson and musician Shannon Pollard; author, professor and music historian Don Cusic; and punk legend Cheetah Chrome. Their first two releases include Darker Than Light by Bobby Bare, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame last month, and You Don’t Know Me: Rediscovering Eddy Arnold, a tribute album to one of the most influential country musicians of all time, featuring a track performed by Mead.