News and Press
This five-song EP by Richmond's Red Light Rodeo is a great find for anyone who likes their bluegrass with a hint of danger. These tunes could easily be the soundtrack for anyone's visit to their favorite local dive with a night of unexpected circumstance lingering in their surroundings. When I talk about RLR and their sound, I like to think of them as being the wild west infiltrating the folk scene and Nothing But the Nuts is a fine achievement.
-Shannon Cleary, Commonwealth of Notions, WRIR Richmond Independent Radio
Red Light Rodeo's new release, Nothing But the Nuts, will hog tie you into loving their sound, whether or not you're already a fan of acoustic string band music. The three-piece hints at bluegrass, oldtime, and newgrass in the five songs on the album, and the sound is fresh and clean while at the same time rugged and familiar. The roots trio involves three virtuosos on their instruments. Zachary Hudgins plucks his heart out on the double (upright) bass, and he tames the beast of an instrument into heady walking basslines and jaunty country riffs. Zack Miller plays the mandolin with his life and even works the fiddle with aplomb on "White Dog." The two also provide heavenly vocal harmonies that blend superwell with lead vocalist and guitarist Wes Canter's tobacco croon.
The EP, recorded by Ben Townsend (Hackensaw Boys) contains three originals and two traditionals, and you have to be familiar with Appalachian public domain tunes to spot the difference. The album begins with "Aces & Eights," an upbeat thrashcountry tune. This first tune is where the listener might notice that there isn't a drummer or percussionist, but the lacking of a fourth member would only encumber the three string wizards. Hudgin's everpresent lowend provides a great sense of rhythm, and the string strumming itself sets the tempo and adds a little texture. "White Dog" comes next, and the subject matter might seem apparent at first this white dog likes to run away from home all the time and piss off his owner. But if you consider that "chasing the white dog" is a reference to moonshine and corn whiskey, the song makes sense in a couple of ways. "Caused me to weep and to moan. . . well I'm blue all here alone." The alcohol blues return in "Cork," which opens with the line, "Why do I put the cork back in the bottle?" Forgetting women and drinking seem to go well together, and while he realizes drinking's destructiveness, he knows he's powerless to the pain he feels. The midtempo tune is line danceable, cloggable, and straight noddable, and if you aren't singing the refrain with Canter by the end of the tune, you're not ready to put that cork back yet. The two traditional tunes, "Cuckoo" and "Lay My Burden," exude that certain mojo that the band has proven with the first three tunes. While the former begins on a slow, dark note (with fiddle by Townsend), it quickly turns into another cloghopper that begs a singalong. "Lay My Burden" has a similar effect, and while the lyrics might feel repetitive, you'll notice an inertia that the repeating of lines creates. It becomes something spiritual and extrahuman, for sure.
The physical CD is a work of art in itself, as it was printed up at Triple Stamp Press here in Richmond with greenfriendly ink. The golden words and etching makes the album feel like a document from a forgotten era, and like it's a treasure to find and behold. And after listening to these tunes at least once, you'll think the whole package is the treat.
-Sarah Moore Lindsey, Virginia Craft Brews Publication
I’ve described Red Light Rodeo as comfort music before – they’ve got a nice simple makeup (three piece consisting of Wes Cantor on guitar, Zach Miller plucking mandolin, and the ever-solid Zach Hudgins on stand-up, all chiming-in on vocals) which gives their sound a non-imposing touch. And while they may be a great opening act for that reason, I imagine those boys could go on all night. I love nothing more than seeing a band make fun of itself a little bit on stage, a point I’ve perhaps beaten to death. I got a particular kick out of their marginally raunchy, light hearted tune “My Gal’s Pussy.” One thing you simply don’t see enough these days is a nice spot-on three part harmony, which Red Light Rodeo certainly achieves. All this is to say, next time Red Light Rodeo plays out, catch them – in their bluejeans, cowboy shirts, boots and buckles.
-Dan Mulrooney, RVA Magazine
Ever since George Clooney was a Dapper Dan man in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, Virginia’s Red Light Rodeo has noticed a rise in the bluegrass genre. “We think that in a way, the older, more rural music is appealing to a lot of folks today as a push against what’s happening with mainstream pop,” says bassist Zach Hudgins. "Many people would rather hear acoustic instruments, hand-crafted songs, and vocal harmonies as opposed to sounds from a computer, songs written by a committee, and auto-tuned voices.” Red Light Rodeo recently released the hilariously titled Nothing But the Nuts, an honest and catchy EP that pays homage to bluegrass’ roots. “We toyed with ideas of production and extra instrumentation, but after learning a new phrase, ‘Nothing But the Nuts,’ we knew we had to record just that — a stripped-down, raw version of our sound that gets folks’ hands clapping and feet stomping,” Hudgins says. Red Light Rodeo is a breath of clean country air for both listeners as well as the band itself. “It helps us to deal with the stressful side of life,” says Hudgins. “We can’t imagine going about our lives in any other way, and we highly recommend it to everyone.”
-J. Chapa, Charleston City Paper
The dudes from Red Light Rodeo have dropped their new string band EP, Nothing But the Nuts, and its sound is as glorious as its title. Recorded and mixed by Ben Townsend (Hackensaw Boys, The Fox Hunt) of Questionable Records and mastered by Bob Rupe, the album is five tracks of acoustic old time goodness. With Appalachia running through their tunes, the three virtuosos manipulate their string instruments with great precision while maintaining a sense of laidback fun. That is, this is a band who might be able to orchestrate your drinking sessions and encourage untoward behavior with a little loose picking and delicious threepart vocal harmonies. Led by singer/songwriter Wes Canter, the band rolls through traditional tunes to traditional sounding songs. You have to be an expert to tell the difference. (The first three tracks are OG, the last two in public domain.)
Check out The Cuckoo,” a murderballadsounding oldtime tune, a song that’s sour in instrumentation and flattering in lyric. I could certainly deal with 25 cent beer/cocaine, as that would really undermine the international cartel drug trade and help a girl’s wallet in recessive times. This clogstomper has that dire sort of tone but is perfect for gettin’ down countrystyle.
-Sarah Moore Lindsey, Sounds of RVA