New album pays tribute to musical heroes of the past
Troubadour 77 is a Utah country-rock band with a pedigree that reaches to Los Angeles, Wyoming and Nashville.
Lead vocalist, pianist and acoustic guitarist Anna Wilson is a renowned country-jazz singer who has written songs for Lady Antebellum and Reba McEntire.
Her husband Monte Powell, who plays electric guitars in the band has written songs for various artists including Keith Urban.
Acoustic and electric guitarist Austin Weyand, who is married to the band’s bassist Kassie Weyland, is the 2014 Wyoming Fingerstyle guitar champion and drummer Nathan Chappell is a world-class cajone player.
After looking at all of these credentials, many people would be surprised Troubadour 77 is just releasing its debut album, “Selma Avenue,” this week.
The band will perform a CD-release party at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, at O.P. Rockwell.
Wilson said the album has been in the works for quite a while.
“We started the writing for it in early 2015, but we didn’t start recording it until Aug. 2016,” Wilson said during a Park Record interview. “The songs would come in spurts during different seasons, until we felt we had enough for an EP.”
That’s when the musicians decided to form Troubadour 77.
“We weren’t a band back then, so the songs really dictated us becoming a band,” Wilson said.
The musicians decided to cut a four-track extended-play (EP) CD, but while they were in the studio, they wrote more songs.
“We then decided to do a whole record, because the songs felt unified from a sonic and directional standpoint,” Wilson said with a laugh. “So we released the EP in April as a teaser to get people talking and understanding who we were, because we knew a full-length was coming in the next few months.”
The album was recorded in the Wilson and Powell’s home studio in Huntsville.
“It was also nice because we had the time to do this,” Wilson said. “There was no rush so everything came organically.”
The album’s title, “Selma Avenue,” has a deep meaning for Wilson.
It refers to the a small street in Los Angeles just off Hollywood Boulevard that housed a recording studio and publishing house that was started by Mickey Goldsen in 1950.
“That particular publishing company, Criterion Music Corporation, signed Jackson Browne to his first publishing deal in the late 1960s,” Wilson said. “In fact, Bo Goldsen, who was Mickey’s son, was getting ready to attend his sophomore year at the University of Utah and told his father about Jackson Browne.”
At that same time, Don Henley and Glenn Frey — who would eventually go on to form the Eagles — along with other young songwriters such as J.D. Souther and Linda Ronstadt, who were all Wilson’s heroes, hung out as friends.
“Very often that whole crew would go into the studio to record their ideas because Criterion was like a work studio,” Wilson said. “Other artists who signed with Criterion included Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell and Lyle Lovett, back in the day.”
In the 1990s, Bo Goldsen signed Wilson to her first publishing deal and that started her whole music career.
“If it wasn’t for Bo and all the great things he did for my heroes and for me, I wouldn’t be making music,” she said.
In 2002, Wilson wrote a song called “1977,” which is included in on the album, as a tribute to Criterion, which has since been torn down.
“It’s funny because the song was an outlier of what I had been doing and it just needed the right project to come along,” Wilson said.
If “Selma Avenue” is a tribute to the recording and publishing company, the band’s name Troubadour 77 is a reference to the Southern California sound of the Eagles, Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt, who all launched their live-performance career at the iconic club known as the Troubadour.
“That is what we’re trying to tell our fans, because 1977 was a watershed time in the music business,” Wilson said. “It was right before disco hit, and it was a time that the singer-songwriter was still glorified on the radio.
“We were so influenced by those artists when we were growing up,” she said. “So we’re trying to carry the torch of that era because not a lot of artists are writing in that style anymore. Also, the sad thing is many of those artists have either retired or have passed on.”
Wilson said Bo Goldsen passed away while Troubadour 77 was making “Selma Avenue.”
“That makes the album that much more meaningful to us,” she said.
On a lighter note, Wilson is happy to perform a CD-release concert in front of a hometown crowd.
“A lot of people who support us are from Utah because we’re a Utah band and that means a lot to us,” she said. “But we also have people flying in from Denver and L.A. So it will be a blast.”
Troubadour 77 will celebrate the CD release of “Selma Avenue,” at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, at O.P. Rockwell, 268 Main St. For information and tickets, visit http://www.oprockwell.com. For information about Troubadour 77, visit troubadour77.com.
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