Archive for the The Backsliders Category

The Players: Brad Rice

Posted in Brad Rice, Johnny Cash, Ryan Adams, Son Volt, The Backsliders, Tift Merritt, Whiskeytown on August 13, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

Here at A Fifty Cent Lighter & a Whiskey Buzz, I talk about a lot of different artists, but usually the posts are geared toward the artist whose name appears on the CD or the front man for the band. That is to say a post about Alejandro Escovedo will deal mostly with Alejandro Escovedo while a post on the Jayhawks will focus mainly on Marc Olson & Gary Louris.

But what about the players behind the front man? The ones who make the music but stay out of the spotlight?

For every Johnny Cash… there is a Luther Perkins. Perkins’ guitar is just as important to the sound of the early Johnny Cash records as the voice of the Man in Black himself, but Perkins doesn’t get nearly as much recognition. The records don’t say Cash & Perkins… they just say Cash. There are moments, however, where Luther Perkins got a chance to shine.

Johnny Cash: Luther Played the Boogie (Buy Album)

It is in the spirit of Luther Perkins that I introduce what I hope will become a semi-regular feature here at AFCLAAWB. “The Players” will take a look at the musicians behind the music… the ones who don’t quite get as much attention as men and women with the microphones. With that in mind… I present guitarist Brad Rice.

In the mid-nineties, Brad Rice and his guitar joined a band out of North Carolina called The Backsliders, a roots-rock outfit that blended a nice bit of country twang with their guitar fueled rock. Their debut album, 1997’s Throwing Rocks at the Moon, was produced by Pete Anderson (Dwight Yoakam) and drew favorable reviews. Rice shines on several songs, including the title track and “Paper Doll World.”

The Backsliders: Throwing Rocks at the Moon (Buy Album)
The Backsliders: Paper Doll World (Buy Album)

After leaving the Backsliders, Rice hooked up with fellow North Carolinian Ryan Adams and worked on a few projects with him. He was featured on Whiskeytown’s 2001 release Pneumonia and stayed with Adams after that band’s demise. He was a part of Adams’ band for the second Pink Heart sessions in July 2001 (not to be confused with the first Pink Heart sessions that took place in December 2000 with John Paul Keith). Those sessions were never fully released, but one of the tracks, “Nuclear,” showed up on Adams’ odds and ends collection Demolition.

Whiskeytown: Crazy About You (Buy Album)
Whiskeytown: Don’t Wanna Know Why (Buy Album)
Ryan Adams: Nuclear (Buy Album)

(Payton over at This Mornin’ I am Born Again has more info about “Crazy About You” here and more about the first Pink Heart sessions with John Paul Keith here.)

As everyone does… Rice eventually left Ryan Adams’ band as well. This time he hooked up with Tift Merritt and joined her touring band shortly after the release of 2004’s Tambourine. This was my first real introduction to Rice as I saw him play with Merritt several times at The Mercy Lounge in Nashville and the Mountain Stage in Charleston, WV. While he never showed up on any of Merritt’s studio recordings, Rice was a vital part of her band for a couple of years and appeared on two live recordings. A DVD released by Austin City Limits in 2007, and a hard to find 2005 release called Home is Loud. Here’s Brad Rice rocking live with Tift Merritt.

Tift Merritt: Neighborhood (Live) (Buy Album)
Tift Merritt: I am Your Tambourine (Live) (Buy Album)

When Jay Farrar assembled his new Son Volt line-up before recording 2005’s Okemah and the Melody of Riot, he came calling on Rice to provide some muscle on guitar. Most of the songs on the album are guitar heavy, and this is probably the best chance Rice has had to truly flex his muscles since his days with The Backsliders. That is no more evident than on the songs “Afterglow 61” and “Who.” Rice also appeared on Son Volt’s 2007 release The Search, but nowhere on that album does he get the same workout he did on Okemah.

Son Volt: Afterglow 61 (Buy Album)
Son Volt: Who (Buy Album)

These days, Brad Rice is making the big bucks on tour with Keith Urban, but hopefully one day he’ll return to the world of Americana. Until then, you can find out more about Rice at his website http://www.bradrice.net/.