When: 7.30pm on Sunday 22 February 2015
Where: The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester M4 1LE
We’re delighted to be working with Steelism for the first time.
It’s a short drive from Nashville, TN, to Muscle Shoals, AL: 125 miles, or about two hours if your foot’s on the leaden side, and you’ve left one musical Mecca for another. Thanks to Nashville instrumental duo Steelism, though, that gap is bridged in the time it takes to listen to a track. Comprised of guitarist Jeremy Fetzer and pedal steel player Spencer Cullum – and backed by some of Nashville’s finest young musicians – Steelism blend an eclectic array of vintage and modern influences to create instrumental music that truly sounds like nothing else.
Though Steelism are new to the music scene, Cullum and Fetzer are not, having backed artists like Wanda Jackson, Johnny Fritz, Rayland Baxter and Andrew Combs. The two met while touring the UK with Nashville songstress Caitlin Rose, quickly bonding over their shared love for classic movie soundtrack composers like Ennio Morricone and 1960s instrumental acts like Booker T and the MGs, The Ventures and Pete Drake. Writing together between soundchecks, the duo realised it was time for the sidemen to become frontmen, and Steelism was born.
Though the two grew up on different continents (Cullum hails from Essex, England; Fetzer from Canton, OH), Cullum and Fetzer were cut from the same musical cloth, as becomes immediately evident whenever they take the stage. Their debut EP, The Intoxicating Sounds of Pedal Steel and Guitar, was met with critical acclaim, with American Songwriter’s Sean Maloney calling Steelism ‘instantly recognisable – surf, country, blues, all steeped in soul and heavy on the grooves – but astoundingly outside the contemporary vernacular’.
The duo’s full-length debut, 615 to FAME, was released in the US via Single Lock Records (founded by Ben Tanner of the Alabama Shakes, John Paul White of The Civil Wars and Will Trapp) and will be released in the UK by Names Records on 9 February 2015. Half recorded at Muscle Shoals’ historic FAME Studios, where Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding all tracked hits, 615 to FAME was produced by Fetzer and Cullum with co-production from Ben Tanner, and contributions from long-time Nashville-based collaborators Jon Radford (drums) and Michael Rinne (bass). Featuring 10 original instrumentals and one cover, 615 to FAME announces Steelism as one of Nashville’s most exciting new acts.
Steelism’s compositions don’t need lyrics to tell stories. Marfa Lights is a krautrock-inspired instrumental influenced by German bands like Neu! and Can, with its title taken from the paranormal lights of the Marfa, TX sky. Cat’s Eye Ring is fit for a Spaghetti Western, named for a ring belonging to a mother protecting her children during the Battle of the Alamo. The album’s only cover track is the swirling, psychedelic Pete Drake number The Spook, which showcases Cullum’s faithful but updated homage to the late Nashville pedal steel legend and Fetzer’s heavier take on the track’s opening refrain.
Main support comes from The Bell Peppers – a couplathree cack-handed young men from Manchester, England who dig Surf Music, Rock & Roll, Doo-Wop and 1950s and 1960s R&B.