Last month I featured a writing contest based on the theme “Love”. The James Younger Gang submitted their song “1,000 Miles” which won a March Feature on Elli Writes. Want your chance in the spotlight? Subscribe to Elli Writes and look for the Monthly Writing Exercise entries. All participants have their work featured on Elli Writes, and winners get to be the next month’s Exclusive Interview.
“A band I’m friends with needed an opening act for their show, and asked the group I was playing with at the time to do it,” said rough and rowdy vocalist Dustin Newcombe. “The group I was playing with couldn’t make it, and instead of doing it acoustic, I really wanted to put on a good show. So I started calling all the good musicians I knew and asked if they wanted to do the gig with me.”
Yet somewhere beneath the bright stage lights these southern-bred rockers discovered a musical chemistry that couldn’t be ignored. After their first gig, the gang (comprised of vocalist/guitarist Dustin Newcombe, drummer Nathan Walker, lead guitarist Jory Whitmore and bassist Alex Coffey) got together and started writing music that merges country roots with an unapologetic rock and roll fervor.
“Our bread and butter is the dirty southern outlaw rock and roll,” explains Newcombe. “But we also do a lot of hoe-down, two-steppin songs too.”
These ‘modern day outlaws’ borrowed their name from the legendary James-Younger Gang which featured the famous Jesse James as well as Bob and Cole Younger.
“Each of us were currently with or had just finished a tenure with another group, and all the music we started out playing (and still play) is kind of the ‘outlaw’ music that [our former bandmates] didn’t want to play or didn’t like,” said Newcombe. “It’s also loosely a tribute to a rebirth of a musical style. Our genre, Southern Rock and Roll, has been lost for many years. Even the ‘country’ music we play is not the shit you hear on the radio these days. It’s country the way it was when people first started playing music with a southern influence.”
To the gang, this isn’t just music. It’s an art form that credits them as composers and storytellers. With songs like their submission, “1,000 Miles”, it’s easy to understand why.
“1,000 Miles is a song about what can happen when good love goes bad, and how that makes someone feel,” said songwriter Newcombe. “Most everyone can relate to having that one that got away that you wish you could go back and have a do-over. This is a song about wanting that.”
Yet even with such personal ties to the lyrics he belts out onstage, Newcombe enjoys hearing how others connect with the songs he and his posse create. “The cool thing about music is that it’s subjective, so if it means something different to anyone, let it. It’ not going to hurt my feelings at all if our stuff is interpreted differently by others. That’s what makes music so interesting.”
The James Younger Gang was awarded Best Country Band at the Charlotte Music Awards last year and continue to perform all over North Carolina. They plan to release their first album April 1st of this year.
“The most important thing however, is that we keep playing live shows,” stated Newcombe. “And that’s what we’re going to do. People are going to hear us because we’ll be out in front of them. If you haven’t seen us live, I recommend you come out.”
He guarantees you won’t be disappointed.
You can find concert dates and music by The James Younger Gang on their MySpace. Currently the band is competing against 18 other bands for a spot at Charlotte’s annual Speed Street festival. You can vote for them at 96.9 The Kat.