Four Reasons Why This Band is Different... Part Two
In our first post on this topic, we learned that the four reasons The Obed River Band is so different from other country bands were the four men who play, sing, write and record their music.
Part Two in this series will address one more reason this band's music sounds different than other country music ensembles in this venue.
One would naturally "assume" that a country song is a country song and country music, is country music, right?
In other words, when you take a guitar and strum it a certain way and a fiddle or mandolin and pick or play it a certain way, play the bass guitar the way most country bands play - then sing the way most country songs are sung, you would find that even though different musicians are playing and singing - they will come out slightly different, but would still sound the way you would expect a "country" song to sound.
Not so with this band. We'll take a look at another element of The Obed River Band in this post to see why we believe it sounds different.
Trent, Steve, and Dewayne grew up playing country, gospel and bluegrass music in their home states of Tennessee and Kentucky.
They are arguably some of the best country, folk and gospel musicians of this era.
They also sing well together and there is no question that Steve Sisco is one of the most gifted songwriters in this band. We feel that he could be one of the best "undiscovered" songwriters in the industry.
Their harmony is as good as it gets, so when you add it all up, this is an exceptional trio of country, folk, bluegrass, and gospel musicians.
When you add a drummer to the band who grew up playing music that has a beat and a sound that's different than what Trent, Steve, and Dewayne has been playing, you are bound to get a different sound.
A drummer who learned his craft and studied music in a city where the auto and music industry both became known as "Motown".
When a combination of great country musicians and a Motown drummer gets together, you are going to create an interesting style of music that can become a lot of fun to listen to.
"The Motown era was unique in many ways, but one way to describe it would be to say that it was a combination of southern blues and a rock beat that included a very different bass and percussion pattern that works together to create a sound all it's own."
The sound and musical style that was heard behind great vocal artists such as Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and the Supremes' was created by one single band that backed all of them on their recording sessions during this amazing musical era.
Berry Gordy, songwriter, producer, and entrepreneur/pioneer who founded Motown Recording Studio was responsible for pulling together the best musicians in the Detroit area to form the studio sessions band known as The Funk Brothers.
Dallas says that...
"If you were to ask most people if they knew who created the Motown Sound, they would run through the names of artists mentioned above and others, such as Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and The Temptations, to name a few."
Most people don't know it was a group of studio musicians called The Funk Brothers... who were responsible for creating the distinctive, highly recognizable Motown sound. They were jazz, rock, blues, and R&B artists that created one of the most unique styles of music in recent memory.
Aretha Franklin said their music was like a river flowing constantly through every song they played.
The following seven-minute video will give you an idea of what we're talking about here.
You'll see... and hear from many of the "original" Funk Brothers band members and... you'll get to hear a couple of the great Motown songs they helped make so famous.
NOTE: Put your headphones on to get the full effect of this amazing music.
When Dallas started playing with Trent and Steve there was a chemistry and an immediate understanding that "something was different" about the sound they were creating as they sang and played songs from Trent and Steve's portfolio of original music they had written and produced.
When Dewayne Wagner became a member of the newly formed country band that would become The Obed River Band in the fall of 2018, the band took on another change, for the better, that had a unique sound all it's own.
"I played with big bands and orchestras for six years when I started my drumming career in the Detroit area. The music and style of play I got used to as a professional during those early years included a drum kit that was tuned differently than what we hear in country music. The Motown sound included a kick (Bass) drum that is tuned to the bass guitar in the band. The snare drum still resonated with the snare sound and so the drums helped create a musical sound that blended in with the other instruments in the band instead of just a beat."
Dallas says he has also made some adjustments by listening to and studying his favorite country drummer, the late Mike Kennedy who played with legendary country singer George Strait for thirty years before his untimely death in a car accident outside of Nashville in 2018.
The loss of Mike Kennedy was a tremendous blow to George, his band and the entire country music family.
Dallas says Mike was one of the best country drummers he had ever heard...
"I was fortunate to have an opportunity to sit behind Mike at The Bridgestone Arena where they were playing at a concert with Reba McIntyre. It was great to see his drum kit set up and watch him play. I noticed that Mike held his sticks differently than I was used to and his kick drum and snare took center stage with just about all the songs the band played. The combination of Mike Kennedy's unique snare drum accents and heavy kick drum beats has now been added to my arsenal of play."
Dallas still includes many of the Motown rhythms and beats he grew up playing in Detroit which makes his style of play different than most country music drummers you will hear today. It has helped make The Obed River Band's music different, in a good way.
He is pictured here at a concert in Detroit during the early years of his career. "I've never been a lead singer," says Dallas, "however, I have always been a decent backup singer and I enjoy doing back up vocals with The Obed River Band. I believe Trent McCoy has one of the strongest and clearest voices in country music. It's also good, and unusual to have three excellent lead singers in a four-piece band. With Steve, Dewayne and Trent, leading the singing, I believe our three and four-part harmony on our songs is as good as it gets!"
"I like the sound we are putting out with The Obed River Band. I have made a few adjustments to my drumming style, as mentioned but I still get to include a lot of the beats, rhythm patterns and runs from my Motown days, and that makes playing Obed River Band music a lot of fun for me!"
Here is a recent photo of Dallas playing at an outdoor concert with The Obed River Band. Notice the difference in his left hand and where he holds his drumsticks now, as opposed to how he held his sticks and the position of his hands in the picture above from his earlier days in Detroit.
The gloved left hand, strong rimshots along with a solid, heavy kick drum are the main changes he has added to his style of play. He has also adopted Mike Kennedy's hold on his drumsticks, which helps create a more powerful "crack" on the snare drum.
Dallas still includes many of the explosive runs and accents that made him such an exciting Motown drummer, so along with the solid beat and rhythm heard in most country songs today and a bit of the Motown accents you have a very different and exciting sound coming from The Obed River Band's music.
This is another reason why Obed River Band music is fun to listen to and dance to.
It's yet another reason why this country band is so different.
The next time you get an opportunity to hear and see this band at one of their live shows, be sure to pay close attention to the drums.
We think you'll agree that The Obed River Band has found a way to bring the sound of country and Motown together in a very pleasing and exciting way!
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