On the Winning Streak with Tweed & Dixie

Best Country Band • Best Original Band • Best New Band of the Year • Best Band Website • Best Folk Band or Duo • Best Rock Bassist • Best Male Rock Vocalist • Best Country Drummer

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Artist Feature, Review Music Awards,   From Issue 826   By: Robert E Martin

28th April, 2016     0

It seems to happen every year. One new band will surface upon the regional music scene and resonate so strongly with audiences that they dominate the popular voting process, which is the foundation of The Review Music Awards, and walk away with numerous honors at our annual ceremony.  Such is the case with Tweed & Dixie – a newly formed Alt-Country-Rock quartet that managed to gain substantial traction thanks to top-notch musicianship, engaging showmanship, and a steady string of original songs difficult to categorize. And this year these realities resulted in the group walking away with eight trophies at the 30th Annual Review Music Awards.

Consisting of former 10 Hands Tall members Barry Forster on vocals & guitar, Billy Gunther on vocals, guitar, banjo & keys; former Burnaround bassist Rick Maida on vocals & bass; and drummer Justin Clifford, the group is currently in the studio working on their Debut EP, which is slated to be released in April; and according to Barry, one of the key components involved with why their sound works so well is because “we’re an awesome contradiction.”

This observation is not without controversy, as no sooner had I arrived home at 1:30 AM the night of the Awards Ceremony when I received the first of several irate e-mails asking how a Country band could walk away with trophies from the Rock division.  The answer is simple and also a testament to how musical genres have blurred in recent years, with bands such as Tweed & Dixie firmly grounded to both the worlds of Country and Rock music.

While the team of Billy & Barry are more Country oriented musically, Rick and Justin are more firmly grounded in the world of Rock ‘n Roll; and their collective focus is to mash these two divergent genres together in a way that is both fresh & engaging. Meeting somewhere between Waylon Jennings and Whitesnake, their sound has been crafted from growing up in the working class, grease-driven madhouse of Buck City and running the backroads of the Great Lakes. Their balanced between the country-rock soul of Forster, the pop-driven energy of Gunther, the gut-busting bass lines and soaring vocals of Maida, and the soulful thunder-drumming of Clifford.

Having played live all over the Midwest in places like Chicago, Columbus, and all over Michigan; within the Great Lakes Bay region the group usually performs at the Willew Lounge in Bay City every Thursday and every other's Wednesday at Sherman's in Flint.  They also perform Mondays at Tavern 101 in Bay City and will play the 702 in Midland on some weekends. They will also be playing at The Party on McCarty this year, along with the Walleye Festival in Freeland.

Because of their divergent bridge between both Country & Rock idioms, each of their live performances is an unpredictable roller-coaster ride into the popular American songbook. “Keith Urban is one of our natural influences,” reflects Barry, and in the early part of our set we’ll do material by Ronnie Milsap and Randy Travis, and then progress into Modern Country and then Rock.  By the end of the night we might be playing something by Rage Against the Machine, its almost that extreme. It’s a crazy transition but that’s the fun of it.”

 “Breaking barriers is what we’re trying to do and this region has big Country crowds and big Rock crowds, so we’re finding ourselves in a pretty cool pace to be. There’s so much we can do now by not being tied to just one style of music.”



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