Songs from the Suck
New album is available here
As the charismatic frontman and banjo picker for the award winning band Slim Pickins Bluegrass since 2008, Chattanooga, TN based singer-songwriter Randy Steele has held court with legendary live performances on some of the Southeast’s most prominent stages and performed everywhere from California to Belgium and Holland.
While the traditional bluegrass songs he wrote for the group received strong airplay on the internet and on radio shows across the country, Steele also began writing material he wanted to record with drums and slide guitar – what he calls “kind of a no no” with traditional bluegrass fans. So Steele, joined by his band and other musician friends, hightailed it down to the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record a solo album, Songs from the Suck, that showcases a deeper, more eclectic artistry and showcases his dynamic growth as a songwriter.
The album combines the bluegrass and blues roots he planted decades before with his ever deepening skills as a poignant storyteller. Adam Beckett of The Pulse, “Chattanooga’s Weekly Alternative,” captures the spirit of the recording when he writes, “The blend of powerful instruments, vocals, and lyrics combine to produce a crisp musical masterpiece that will rock any hootenanny or hoedown.” Steele is aware that the album title can throw people, so he explains the geography behind it: “The Suck is a reference to Suck Creek that comes into the Tennessee River close to my house. In the early days before TVA dammed the rivers, it was a notorious section of rapids that would break boats and such. Just below was Moccasin Bend, where Cherokee raids were often waiting, and the Muscle Shoals in Alabama was another dangerous section of the river. I liked it phonetically and I thought it would be an easy title to remember.”
Several songs from the 11-track collection have already received impressive accolades. “Mobile Soon,” a reflective acoustic gem about returning home after challenging time in a major city, placed third in the Circa Blue Bluegrass Songwriting competition. The passionate ballad “Hideaway,” written from the perspective of a personified mountain and spring, will be appearing on the Relix Magazine sampler for December 2017. Other key tracks include “Hard Givin’,” which cleverly uses the imagery of rebuilding a wheel well on a dusty old train to illustrate a deeper meditation on a person trying to find direction in life. The opening track “Northbound 29” is a playful bluegrass travel tune inspired by the experiences of truckers Steele has met. He performs it as a spirited, harmony-rich duet with Rachel Moses.
Steele, a lifelong electric guitarist who fell in love with the banjo and bluegrass music in his early 20’s, continues to perform with Slim Pickins Bluegrass even as his slate of solo shows playing his solo material continues to expand. He performs many of these acoustically, bringing the warmth, intimacy and wit to audiences that are completely different from his bluegrass base. “I enjoy writing stories, and the pieces on Songs from the Suck are mostly fictional,” he says. “Seems like the newer fans are there not just to enjoy the musical atmosphere, but to really experience the songwriting. I grew up loving that storytelling style of songwriting, and it’s exciting to have the opportunity to share it. Whether I’m playing solo or with the band, I’m having fun making music with my friends.”