Local 429

Local 429

BandAlternativeSinger/Songwriter

"Faulkner with a socio/political axe to grind picking a 5-string guitar with Lou Reed." - Matthew Ryan

Biography

Local 429 is Clay Steakley – a musician, actor and writer originally from Nashville, now in Washington DC – and a revolving cast of supporting characters from Nashville’s music scene. As an actor, Clay was most recently seen in the CBS miniseries Elvis playing Bill Black, Elvis Presley’s bass player. In November, you can see him in theaters portraying Johnny Cash’s drummer WS “Fluke” Holland in the 20th Century Fox film Walk the Line which stars Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash. He also works as a music journalist and composes music for theatrical productions, most recently a politically charged adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

On this album, Local 429 is Clay Steakley and Chip Jordan. Serving together as a rhythm section since 1994, Steakley and Jordan played in the Mercury Records-signed Lounge Flounders with Steakley on bass and Jordan on drums. After the release of the Flounders’ Imaginary Saints and extensive touring, the Flounders parted and Steakley and Jordan went on to play in the popular Nashville outfit Canebrake Quartet and work as sidemen. Steakley also served as bass player for acclaimed songwriter Matthew Ryan, as well as a number of Nashville artists, while building a successful career as a music journalist and actor. He set out to record Electricity…, bringing Jordan in to help with what was ostensibly a solo project, but Jordan’s input in arrangement and harmony and the talents of various and sundry collaborators soon turned the one-man act into Local 429 – named after the Nashville local of the IBEW, the electrician’s union that Steakley’s father has been a member of since 1967.

Inspired by the sparse, straightforward poetry of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan and the skewed, dark vision of Tom Waits as well as Southern novelists like Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O’Connor and Barry Hannah, Steakley’s lyrics evoke the fleeting beauty of the everyday. With the political bent of Billy Bragg and Utah Phillips and the no-bullshit stance of a honky-tonker, he growls out laments in a manner that Matthew Ryan once described as, “Faulkner with a socio/political axe to grind picking a 5-string guitar with Lou Reed.”

Jordan and Steakley teamed up with producer/cellist David Henry, whose production and playing credits include Cowboy Junkies, Yo La Tengo, Guster and REM, to build Electricity to the People over the course of a year. More than just a recorded jumble of random tunes, it is a collection of particular songs that speak to one another. Brother songs and sister songs. With Henry at the recording helm, they cut the basic tracks with Jordan handling drums, percussion, loops and harmony vocals and Steakley singing and playing acoustic and electric guitars, bass and mandolin. They enlisted friends to contribute, including Swan Dive’s Bill DeMain (lead electric guitar on “Pretty Girls & Bonfire Boys”), Farmer Not So John’s Richard McLaurin (pedal steel on “Our Lady of the Highways” and lap steel on “Something Else”) and Molly Thomas (violin on “Our Lady of the Highways”). Henry was no slouch himself, covering cello, Lowrey organ, Wurlitzer and piano duties as well as the occasional harmony. Buddy Brian Bequette (Neilson Hubbard, Garrison Starr) provided thick, heart-stuttering bass.

The result is a focused, intensely personal collection of songs that are alternately confessional and confrontational. Producer David Henry refers to it as a Southern Velvet Underground. They touch on their roots in folk, country and thirty years’ worth of independent rock and mix them into an understated, unapologetic sound. With influences ranging from Cash to the Clash, from Tom Waits to Willie Nelson, from Elvis Costello to Lyle Lovett, from the Band to the Replacements, the boys in Local 429 have fashioned a record for the rest of us. A record about politics, about the struggle for identity in the boiling mess of consumerism, about love and love lost. About life.

Lyrics

Keep Your Distance

Written By: Clay Steakley

Ready Freddy’s feeling right as rain,
Now he’s got that whiskey monkey off his shoulders.
And all the neighborhood kids are still scared of him.
He watches them as his cigar smolders.

Whatever happened to all them fighting boys?
The scrappers, the players, and the punks?
All I’m left with are anxious gunmen
and spraypaint boys and amateur drunks.
So, keep your distance.

Freddy says, “In my day it took more than attitude
And a tattoo to make you tough.
Your loud mouth and your loud music,
Your girls and your cars, they just ain’t enough.

“There’s only so long you can live on mean and muscle
Without a thought in your head.
There’s a thin line between brave and stupid,
Or just between brave and dead.

Whatever happened to all them fighting boys?
The scrappers, the players, and the punks?
All I’m left with are anxious gunmen
And spraypaint boys and amateur drunks.
So, keep your distance, boys.

Ready Freddy’s feeling right as rain,
Now he’s got that whiskey out of his veins.
All us neighborhood kids are still scared of him.
He shakes his fist and complains.

Whatever happened to all them fighting boys?
The scrappers, the players, and the punks?
All I’m left with are anxious gunmen
And spraypaint boys and amateur drunks.
So, keep your distance, boys.

Pretty Girls & Bonfire Boys

Written By: Clay Steakley


Too young to take too seriously,
Old enough to be dangerous.
High heels, low necklines,
Boys, automobiles, and weekends.

You’re impervious to any harm
But the slow, wringing death of an insult
Or a backhanded laugh.

Music of your earrings, music of your bracelets
Accompany that mixed up and melancholy
Voice in your blood.
Every Saturday’s a circus
Of heartaches and arguments and
Smeared, swollen, kissing mouths.
After the bonfires, the hand-holding movies, and the dances.

Everything means everything
And nothing means anything.
Pretty girl, it ain’t the end of the world,
It just always feels that way.

Their roof, their rules,
It ain’t fair,
“Aw, honey,” they say, “ain’t nothing fair
Under this old sun.”
But you know everything’s alright under the moon
In the gravel drives.
All night,
After curfew.
You know it’ll get you grounded.

Everything means everything
And nothing means anything.
Pretty girl, it ain’t the end of the world,
It just always feels that way.

18, you’ll be grown up, and marry your bonfire boy.
You’ll live someplace by the ocean
And he’ll be a businessman
You’ll be a movie star,
Or maybe a teacher
And everything will be so perfect,
Ever, ever after.

Everything means everything
And nothing means much.
Pretty girl, it ain’t the end of the world,
It just always feels that way.

Biltmore Gardens

Written By: Clay Steakley

It was the Biltmore Gardens,
You in a white dress and brown eyes.
Our faces buckled into smiles.

The mansion envied us from its hill,
Aloof as a cathedral, permanent as a scar.

We were dizzy from the heat and the laughter,
The sun was bright.
The trees groaned under its weight.

We were happy as a payday.
We were poor as a Monday.

I know I’m clumsy and loud,
I know I ruin things and I drink.
But you are my religion,
My waking up and lying down.

Cool as October,
Patient as a river,
Pretty as a bird,
Stronger than whiskey.

Discography

"Electricity to the People" TBA

"Keep Your Distance" streaming at myhotelromeo.com

More songs at www.myspace.com/local429