New Truth & Salvage Co. Single “Black Ribbon Highway”
A Family Affair Celebrating Trails Blazed Both Past and Present
First fully independent release from roots rock band with Black Crowes ties; inspired by the history and vast terrain of eastern New Mexico, where T&SCo guitarist’s father (who co-writes) grew up a wildcatter’s son and a “crusty” rancher’s nephew
Truth & Salvage Co. is set to release a new single called “Black Ribbon Highway” on Tuesday, December 2, 2014. Co-written by guitarist/vocalist Scott Kinnebrew and his father Michael Kinnebrew last year, the song was inspired by the elder Kinnebrew’s adventures as a youth splitting time between oil prospecting with his “wildcatter” father across East Texas and being “schooled on the hard-working ranch of a crusty, homesteading, cowboy uncle,” as he describes it, on the plains of eastern New Mexico.
This will be T&SCo’s first release after parting ways with the record label and management they’d been with since their 2008 inception. “It was great working with Pete [Angelus, of Angelus Entertainment],” says Scott Kinnebrew, “he introduced us to the Black Crowes and to Megaforce Records and we had a wild and fun ride with them.” However, after two albums and an EP (including their self-titled debut produced by the Crowes’ Chris Robinson) and five years of steady road work with the Crowes, the Avett Brothers and many others, the band needed to hit the reset button and take a breather.
Now, having toured extensively behind last year’s well-received, self-produced album, Pick Me Up, the band members find themselves “experiencing an enjoyable diaspora,” says Kinnebrew, with drummer/vocalist Bill “Smitty” Smith taking time off in Lafayette, Louisiana, pianist/vocalist Walker Young living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, organist and keys player Adam Grace living in Tupelo, Mississippi, guitarist/vocalist Tim Jones and bassist Dean Moore holding down base camp in Nashville, and Kinnebrew hanging tough in the underbelly of Hollywood, where the band spent their initial phase.
Plans to write, record and resume touring are set for the spring of 2015. In the meantime, the release of “Black Ribbon Highway” is meant to “keep the fire burning with our fans while we’re off the road,” Kinnebrew says, and in a small way to welcome to the world T&SCo’s first “band baby,” Smitty’s daughter with his wife Monti, Charlie Marie.
Says Kinnebrew, “The circumstances of this song are so unique and tied to family that the band felt we’d best serve the song by offering it as a single now, during the holidays, rather than holding the song until another record was ready.”
Michael Kinnebrew’s summer months as a pre-teen in the Fifties were spent with his uncle at the Reversed LK Bar ranch in eastern New Mexico. In the non-summer months he’d drive with his dad all around the mammoth state of Texas prospecting for oil. Michael’s father was a “wildcatter,” a “total rambler” who would take young Michael on never-ending backcountry pursuits of land leases that might or might not produce oil. Most often not.
Which meant that those summers at his uncle’s ranch made up Michael’s favorite memories; he could spend his days playing, being a kid and riding horses instead of driving with his dad all around Texas sniffing out oil. The highway sung about in the song is Texas Highway 84, once a trail that made up an early part of the storied Route 66. It was the road Michael rode every summer to get to the Reversed LK. He writes in the lyrics to “Black Ribbon Highway,” “You’re the trail that carried this boy through his life.”
The Writing and Recording of “Black Ribbon Highway”
Scott describes his dad and co-writer as “a new old-timer who recently has been taking to songwriting and guitar-fixing.” A highly accomplished oral surgeon who specialized in repairing cleft palates, Dr. Kinnebrew “just decided he wanted to learn how to fix old jacked-up guitars, so he taught himself and he’s really good at it,” says the younger Kinnebrew. “He had the lyrics to what became ‘Black Ribbon Highway’ when I visited home last. Then we just sat down together with guitars and carved out the music and the melody.”
Scott had forgotten about the song after a few months, but his dad kept on him about how great it would be if Truth & Salvage recorded it. Scott says, “I kept blowing the idea off, but finally I sat down to listen to the voice memo we made and was surprised by how cool the song turned out. I recorded a demo and sent it to the band and asked them if we could schedule a day off during a run last summer to get into a studio and track it. They love my dad, and they really loved the tune and said ‘Hell yes!’”
Michael met up with Truth & Salvage Co. for two days at Electric Thunder Studio in the heart of Nashville’s “studio city” neighborhood, Berry Hill. ET’s Geoff Piller engineered and provided invaluable insight, while Scott Kinnebrew took his first-ever turn at producing. They spent a short time running over the tune and finalizing the arrangement, and then just dug in and went at it.
“All the parts everybody ended up bringing to the table were perfect,” Scott reflects, “and my dad was a kid in a candy store, never having recorded in a studio before. His energy brought something real special to the table. His harmonica playing set the whole tone for the session! We had a blast recording with him.”
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