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Banditos + The Pink Stones

Tuesday, 9.26.23

Charleston Pour House

Main Stage

8pm doors /9pm show

$13 advance /$15 day of show


“Everything we write is from the point of view of the every person. We’re all in it together. I think the undertone of most of the music we write is inclusivity. Everyone can relate to it. Everyone can feel it.”

That’s Mary Beth Richardson, lead vocalist of the beloved roots rock outfit Banditos. She’s talking about the song “On My Way,” a standout track off the band’s genre-defying new album Right On, on Egghunt Records. But she gets at the core of what makes Banditos so special, the secret sauce that built a rabid following for the Nashville-based, Birmingham, AL-born quintet, who first burst on the scene with their acclaimed self-titled Bloodshot Records debut in 2015.

Right On is the third studio album from Banditos, following 2017’s ambitious, kaleidoscopic Visionland, an album that signaled a greater well of potential from Banditos and their chameleonic, ever-evolving sound. In a way, Right On is the final piece of one hell of an introductory trilogy, one that shows just how far the band has come since forming while signaling a dynamic, exciting future.

The band — Mary Beth Richardson (vocals), Corey Parsons (vocals, guitar), Randy Wade (drums), Jeffery Salter (guitar) and Stephen Pierce (vocals, banjo, bass) — wrote and recorded Right On with producer Jordan Lehning (Caitlin Rose, Joshua Hedley) in late 2019, wrapping up the project barely a month before the COVID-19 pandemic ground the music industry to a screeching halt. It’s been a long time for the prolific, energetic band to sit on new material, but that passing time has only served to underscore just how special this music is. “We’re excited about getting her out there,” Richardson says of Right On. “She’s been ready.”

Taking a communal approach to writing songs, the band first began work on Right On in 2018, doing much of their writing and brainstorming in Salter’s garage. “We came up with a lot of the ideas with riffs. The guys hammered out ideas that they had [on guitar] and then slowly started putting together a song. Then me or one of the lyric writers put lyrics over it that we felt fit.”

The first tune they came up with was “Deep End,” a party song with cosmic origins. The song, which would feel just at home at a festival as it would a honky-tonk, was inspired by the photograph of Earth known as the “Pale Blue Dot,” taken 3.7 billion miles away by the Voyager 1 in 1990.

“These lyrics came from thinking about being a very small in the middle of space, and coming to grips with it,” Richardson explains. “And how things aren’t as big as you feel like they are. Because we’re all nothing and everything. We’re just little specks in space. We’re not insignificant, but everything is connected. That song is realism meets a mushroom trip.”

While years spent touring certainly honed and expanded the band’s sound, a shakeup in the band’s lineup also brought fresh perspective to the songs on Right On. After the departure of their longtime bassist, Pierce learned to play the bass himself, bringing his own new style of playing to the proceedings. Pierce and Wade quickly found a groove together, bringing new rhythmic possibilities to the band.

“Steve’s always been the funkiest one,” Wade says. “He played banjo, which is already four strings and the same tuning, so it really made sense. And you have to be really tight rhythmically on the banjo to make it sound right. So once he got used to the bass itself, he got really creative. It was a really exciting change because we play off of each other really well.”

Richardson’s move to lead vocalist also reinvigorated the band’s process, as some of the album’s tracks were written with her powerful, versatile voice in mind. “I’m still kind of figuring it out, but I’m excited,” she says of her new role. “And when I’m on stage, I feel like I can actually express my inside on the outside in ways I can’t do otherwise. It feels good.”

Lehning, too, was a key player in bringing this new iteration of Banditos together, leading sessions at his backyard studio in East Nashville. In between takes, the band had an array of toys and games — like ‘90s favorite Goldeneye on Nintendo 64 — to play with in the studio, which Lehning keeps on hand to help artists stay in a creative, playful mindset.

“Jordan’s a good buddy,” Richardson says. “It was very homey, very much a ‘buddy’ kind of energy. He knows what it takes to make artists comfortable and relaxed. So, we were just a bunch of grown kids. He had some really cool sounds and ideas for us and we would bang them out, however long it took, then drink some tequila and do it again.”

This newfound energy can be heard all over Right On. Opener “Time Wasted” is a high-octane, melodic ode to reclaiming one’s time from an ambivalent lover. Richardson’s soulful vocal is at once empowered and a bit vulnerable, hinting at the heartache at the song’s core without sacrificing an ounce of strength. A hard-driving rhythm from Wade and Pierce only heightens that strength, as crunchy guitars and harmony vocals create a rough-hewn wall of sound.

“The Waves” plays with the dynamism of both Richardson’s voice and the band as a unit, punctuating subtle, gentle verses with crystalline daggers of electric guitar and lush harmony vocals. “Here Tonight” is all soul, with Pierce’s elastic bass playing off Richardson’s agile vocal. “On My Way” is laid-back and breezy, tailor-made for a day spent with sunshine and cerveza. “Said and Done,” which the band agrees is the album’s funkiest track, revels in the beauty of just letting shit go.

The album closes with a trio of emotional songs, beginning with the plaintive “One More Time.” Richardson wrote the song in the wake of a particularly difficult breakup and found personal catharsis in putting her heavy feelings to music. “Easy,” a Parsons composition, grapples with mental illness and suicide. And closer “Ozone,” which features a stellar musical outro, builds atop a years-old idea from Parsons and Richardson and ends Right On with a sense of hard-earned hope.

There’s something for everyone on Right On, whether it’s the swaggering rhythm of “Said and Done,” the painful honesty of “Easy” or, more likely, both. While only Banditos could make such an album, this music is for everyone. Richardson said it best: “Everyone can feel it.”

The Pink Stones

Who “This record was me trying to take everything I love as a listener and a player and shove it all into one thing without it sounding random,” says Hunter Pinkston, former punk turned cosmic country auteur, describing You Know Who, the boisterous, ambitious sophomore album by his band The Pink Stones. Ostensibly they play country music, yet all the pedal steel sobs, the two-steppin’ rhythms, twangy harmonies, and lyrics about broken hearts and long days on the road are launchpads for wild experiments and unexpected stylistic forays. “There’s obviously a lot of country and rock in our music, but there’s a lot of gospel and soul and psych and dub. I really wanted to get all of those things living peacefully together in one record.

” Made up almost entirely of Athens musicians who play in other bands around town (including former members of the Drive-By Truckers and the Glands), The Pink Stones match their frontman’s vast musical vocabulary while adding their own twists to spacey honkytonk, pedal-to-the-metal trucker anthems, and ecstatic gospel. Together, they have the range to be whatever they need to be at any given moment, embracing the spirit of musical freedom that has animated the local music scene for more than forty years. Yet, The Pink Stones sound like no other Athens band. “We have the space to be free here in Athens and do whatever we want,” says Pinkston. “We get to do our own thing, and there are a million other really good bands doing their own things here as well. Everyone is friends with everyone else, and everyone’s doing something constantly, so you’re always hearing something new. And you always have to stay on your toes.”

The success of their 2021 debut, Introducing…The Pink Stones, took them far away from home and kept them out on tour for long stretches. That album laid out the parameters of their sound, winning accolades from Rolling Stone, No Depression, and American Songwriter and comparisons to Gram Parsons, the Byrds, and the Grateful Dead. But when they took those songs on the road, they busted right through all of those parameters, pushing their music in new directions and coalescing into a tougher, tighter live act. Very quickly The Pink Stones developed a reputation for their raucous rock shows, and the intensity, ingenuity, and unpredictability they cultivated on stages across America informs their sophomore album.

After recording Introducing…The Pink Stones, at Chase Park Transduction—the legendary Athens studio that has hosted sessions by the Truckers, Faye Webster, Deerhunter, and many others—this time The Pink Stones recorded miles from any professional studio. They set up at the home of Henry Barbe, son of Chase Park owner David Barbe and frontman for the Hernies. “It was way looser,” says Pinkston. “We were able to take our time and have a little more fun. Sessions went later into the night. We did the live band thing where we tracked the whole record live and then went back to do a few overdubs.” They’d already worked out most of these songs on stages across America, especially the rip-roaring “Who’s Laughing Now?” which hides its aching heart behind a big sing-along chorus. They tackled it in one or two quick takes, then passed it along to friends and frequent tourmates Teddy & the Rough Riders, who added harmonies. “We did that song on tour with them, and I always loved the way they sounded on it. I always like to bring in as many of my friends to do stuff on a record as possible.”

Pinkston put the band on the spot, however, by showing them some of the newer songs right when they were walking in Henry’s door each morning. He wanted to see how they might bring them to life, how they might expand his ideas in ways he couldn’t dream up. That approach lends “Time’s Standing Still” its ramshackle grandeur. It opens with a slow-motion boogie-rock riff, then shifts abruptly into a weird dub-waltz chorus, toggling back and forth as Pinkston ponders his own culpability in getting his heart broken. “I had never shown that song to anyone before we tracked it. I just showed up at Henry’s and told them, This is the key we’re in. Here are the lyrics. Let’s just see what happens. It’s weird in retrospect, because that song has so many feel changes. It’s maybe the worst one not to have shown to anyone, but they still nailed it.

” Heavy touring has honed The Pink Stones’ attack, giving them the ability to chase down any wild scheme, but it’s also made Pinkston more confident as a songwriter who catalogs his feelings of alienation, isolation, loneliness, and yearning with wit and acuity. “There’s been a lot of growth and change in my life since we made our debut, and I’ve been feeling more comfortable as a songwriter, more at home as a person who plays music and expresses himself in lyrics.”

Writing about a recent breakup, he forgoes easy recrimination in favor of self-examination, especially on the rambunctious duet “Baby, I’m Still Right Here.” They’d been playing the song live for a while, but Pinkston felt something was missing: another voice in the mix, another side of the story, a Tammy to his George. He asked their labelmate Nikki Lane to help him turn it into a duet, admitting, “I didn’t give her very much direction. I just sent her the lyrics and a version of me singing the whole thing. Just do whatever feels right to you. I remember being on edge while she wasrecording, although in retrospect I didn’t need to be. The song is all the better and deeper for her being on it.

” While Pinkston is hesitant to call You Know Who a coming-of-age album, the trials and rewards of adulthood—with all of its responsibilities and disappointments, wisdom and contradictions—animate every song. “I wanted this one in particular to be a snapshot of us in the past year or so. We’ll make more music together and record different records, but this is where we are right now in our lives. It’s fun and freeing to be able to give the songs that kind of space, to let them be what they need to be at that time, and then let them go.”

* Show is 21+. Attendees under 21 must be accompanied by a parent & will be subject to a $5 surcharge. The surcharge must be paid in cash at the door on the day of the event.