gats 2013

Todd Dills

Shout-outs from Dallas, Nashville, via studios mobile and not so

| August 22, 2013
Freightliner 122SD wrecker on display at GATS, next to Sirius XM Road Dog's live broadcast station.
Freightliner 122SD wrecker on display at GATS, next to Sirius XM Road Dog’s live broadcast station.

I’ll be joining Mark Willis on his Road Dog Trucking News Live show Friday 2-2:30 p.m. Central — those far afield, as always, can tune in via Sirius XM Channel 128. If you’re at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, though, come on by the Freightliner booth at the time and say hi or feel free to heckle, as it were. My voice may be a little clearer than usual this time around, as I won’t be talking to Willis from the office on a cellphone, but rather we’ll be chatting there in person — he’s broadcasting from the booth Thursday and Friday. It’d be great to see any and all who can come by and say hi. 

Tony Justice in the vocal booth at County Q Studios.
Tony Justice in the vocal booth at County Q Studios.

But you’ve got maybe a difficult choice to make. Trucking troubadour Tony Justice starts up a solo performance at the TravelCenters of America booth at the same time, and he’ll be going for close to the same duration. I got the opportunity to sit in on his vocal session this past Monday at County Q Studios on W. Iris in the Berry Hill neighborhood in Nashville, by the way. He was working on laying down vocal tracks for the music that was put down the prior week, which I wrote about here. 

I saw two cuts laid down — with utterly different methods. The first, a sped-up cover of “Driving My Life Away” (voted No. 7 in our 2011 polling toward a top 10 trucking songs of all time), Justice sang straight through, five times, producer Jeff Silvey calling out some of the different inflections Justice brought to the vocals, stopping and starting occasionally to pick up where things ran off the rails a bit. Silvey created five vocal tracks in total, from which at the end of the process creating the album he’ll pick and choose to build the best possible single vocal track.

Next came the album’s title track, “Apple Pie Moonshine,” paean to Justice’s Eastern Kentucky mountain roots — he lives near Knoxville, Tenn., today, not exactly flat itself — a sort of country-blues romp through a backcountry party down in the holler, more or less.

Here’s the first verse as I transcribed it:

Apple pie moonshine
South of that Dixie line
Big ol’ bonfire
About to get buckwild
That country bass is thumpin’
The catfish are jumpin
Those pretty country girls are dancin’ with their country bumpkins
Slide it to the right now, c’mon, let’s go
Spin them girls around, boys
Do-si-do 

That doesn’t do justice, as it were, to the power of Justice’s delivery, of course. All I can say on that tune now is, well, stay tuned. Or see if you can get him to play it for you at GATS if you’re here.

The vocal range between the verse and chorus was such that on “Apple Pie” Silvey had Justice sing each verse straight through five times (a very low-pitched delivery), then the chorus (much higher) five times, so as not to wear out the vocal chords with too many quick shifts from low to high gear.

Sound familiar? All in all, an interesting difference from the approach to the “Driving” track. Enjoy these few shots from the session below.

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