Meade Skelton
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Meade Skelton

Richmond, Virginia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Richmond, Virginia, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
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By Jim Fusco:

As a “Yankee” from up here in Connecticut, I honestly had no idea if I would be able to relate to Meade Skelton’s new album, “Meade Music”. With song titles like, “Sweet Tea”, “Old South”, and “Me And My Horse”, would I really understand the sentiments Meade was trying to convey in his music? Up in Connecticut, sweet tea is bought pre-brewed at Stop & Shop and I see a horse about once a year grazing in some rich person’s sprawling yard. As I said, I really wasn’t sure what to expect…

So, I started to play the album…and smiled. It only took one listen for me to realize that the smile on my face was due to Meade’s sincerity, piano-playing skills, and and songwriting ability. But, we’ll get to that soon. First, some background:

Meade Skelton is a singer/songwriter/piano player from Richmond, VA. This is not the first of his albums reviewed here at the Laptop Sessions music video blog, but it’s the first one I’ve reviewed, so his music was a new experience for me. Meade and his Meadow Street Band are a very active group, and I can see why. One look at “Meade’s Place” (the name for his website at http://www.meadeskeltonsplace.com) and you can see the passion Meade has for his music. His dedication is inspiring, actually.

There are a few stand-out elements of Meade’s album. First is his superb piano playing. He plays with passion. He also plays to fill the sound out (there isn’t much guitar on the album, save for a really great lap steel guitar here and there), but he never does too much. The jangly upright piano style is perfectly suited for his little bit country/little bit rock’n'roll music. Probably the best element of this album is Meade’s singing voice. It’s strong in the right places, but he never screams. It’s got a clear sound with just the right amount of melancholy. He uses that down-south vibrato at times, but thankfully he never over-does it. The only element I’m not too fond of on the album is the drumming, as it’s off-tempo at many times, which detracts from the listening experience. If a more country sound is what Meade was going for on this album, then a bona fide country drummer would’ve been better than conforming a rock drummer to that alternate style. Though, I would love to hear these songs played with a rock drum beat, just for the heck of it.

The overall style of sound on “Meade Music” reminds me of the Byrds when they went into their country phase. It’s a sophisticated sound that sounds like country at first, but really has many elements of a rock’n'roll background. But, the best part of Meade’s songwriting actually harks to a different style of songwriter: Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. You see, upon first listen, many Beach Boys classic songs can be written off as “happy fluff”. But, Brian Wilson always had a great knack of integrating a sadder undertone to his music. It showed that his music came from the heart and a place of innocence. Meade may be singing about memories of the bus he used to take in “Old Bus 48?, but the minor chord changes Meade throws in throughout the album give the listener a feeling of a somber remembrance- it’s the feeling that, while Meade looks back with fondness, he also misses those good ol’ days. I think that’s what gives “Meade Music” some great staying power. And, the fact that he uses his reflection on the past so well made me relate to the songs I thought were way out of my comfort-zone, like I mentioned earlier.

My favorite track on the album is “Before You Go”, a late-album gem. The general sound reminds me of The Turtles’ classic “Eleanore”. The subject matter is a little more serious than on the rest of the album, that is, “Before You Go” is more upfront about it. This is the song I would play for any prospective listener first.

Meade’s new album is available everywhere, but you should look for it on Amazon.com (mp3 digital download here) and at CD Baby (on CD here). Also, available in August 2012, you can purchase the album on vinyl, which I think would suit this album wonderfully. You should definitely give this album a listen and check out the rest of Meade’s Music on his website! - Jim Fusco-Lap Top Sessions


Meade Skelton, “Meade Music” (self-released)

I’m not sure how I missed Richmond’s own “piano playin’ cowboy.” But after reading about Meade Skelton on the Music for Maniacs blog, I was intrigued by this Southern Baptist “outsider musician” known for Internet self-promotion and writing country-and-western songs about his struggles with weight and distaste for hipsters. The music has a golden ’70s AM sheen to it, not unlike a number of vintage, little-known country albums that hipster labels have been reissuing lately.

His latest, “Meade Music,” is a good introduction. It’s a greatest hits of sorts (his most requested songs) delivered in smooth, country-politan fashion by the solid Meadow Street Band, which lies back in Skelton’s gently rollicking piano groove. His expressive tenor vocals are heartfelt and occasionally recall a poor man’s Gram Parsons — even when he overreaches, you can forgive him. He writes about what he knows: mostly honest and simple odes to Southern life about sweet tea, riding horses and taking life slowly. The ballads are enjoyable for their purity of vision and infectious enthusiasm — there’s even a little doo-wop — no hipster irony here. Just Skelton’s nostalgic porch-swing world, a happy place where the Krispy Kreme light stays on, “Mama’s Family” episodes still top the Nielsen ratings, and neck-fat men in seersucker suits nod to “a simpler place and time, back in the Old South,” as Skelton sings. Vocalist Kathy McGraw adds, “Well, shut my mouth, honey child.” — Brent Baldwin - Style Weekly-Brent Baldwin


January 25th, 2009

By Chris Moore:

The notes for Meade Skelton’s 2003 release They Can’t Keep Me Down declare, “In an era of serious singer-songwriters with overly pretentious lyrics, Meade Skelton keeps it simple and sincere.”

This indeed continues to be true for the music he is making five years later.

His new single, “My Loudoun County Home,” is a lyrical stroll down memory lane, recalling and reminiscing about people, places, and events of importance in Skelton’s life. There is a bittersweet combination of love and sadness in his words. Truly, Skelton’s voice brings this song to life. His voice is clear and crisp; clearly he has been classically trained. And yet this training has not affected his ability to sing with the sort of emotion that one cannot be trained to project. His vocals have a soaring quality that conjure John Denver at his best.


Skelton is clearly singing from his heart, and when he sings, “No matter where I roam, I’ll always love my Loudon County home,” it does not come across as too simple or trite — it translates as true and heartfelt.

And this song holds true to that claim made in 2003 — he sounds far from pretentious. Quite to the contrary, his lyrics are straightforward and his sound is perfectly matched to the tone of this single. In addition to his pitch-perfect, emotive vocals, the instrumental accompaniment is simple, but full. Predominant in the mix are Skelton’s piano, a violin, bass, and drums. The piano may be the grounding force in this track, but the violin accents the tone of the song in all the places that his voice does not, the string instrument holding back as he sings only to come to full and vibrant life as his singing pauses in between lines.

“Moved By The Spirit,” the second track (the B-side if you decide to purchase the vinyl edition of this single instead of the CD), delves into the spiritual overtones referenced in “My Loudoun County Home.” Here, the lyrics are even simpler and more straightforward. The instrumentation is sparse to match, highlighting Skelton’s abilities on the keyboards, which have been — perhaps purposely — set to an organ tone. This is, of course, fitting for a song about the Holy Spirit.
Meade Skelton

Meade Skelton

Overall, this seems a very appropriate time for Skelton to release a fairly serious, autobiographical song. After all, he has been performing music since childhood and has been “playing the scene” (as his YouTube page states) since 2001. His two releases in the past five years have included an album of standards, which is of course the traditional way to gain people’s interest in your own work. Now, as he pays tribute to his “Loudoun County Home,” Skelton sounds confident in his work.

As well he should be, considering the amount of time and energy he has dedicated to this endeavor. Even a quick stop at Meade Skelton’s YouTube page will reveal a virtual treasure trove of life performances, as well as a video promo for this, his latest single.

Whether you are a fan of Skelton already or a newcomer to his music, this new single is an excellent opportunity to acquaint (or re-acquaint, as the case may be) yourself with the sound and the background of this talented performer.


http://laptopsessions.com/archives/911 - Lap Top Sessions


Meade Skelton chooses to be who he wants to be

'I always thought of myself as the Frank Sinatra type,' he says

BY PETE HUMES
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Sunday, August 7, 2005


Meade Skelton is a big boy.

Mostly because he's a sucker for that rich, Southern comfort food you can smell a mile away: Lee's Chicken, Bill's Barbecue, Krispy Kreme.

But while his weakness for glazed doughnuts is typical, almost nothing else about the 26-year-old musician is.

In a local music scene better known for tattoos, monster riffs and cynical detachment, Skelton stands apart.

Honestly, he has no choice. In the city that spawned GWAR, Lamb of God and Avail, a husky piano player in a beige sports coat who uses words like "crummy" and "neat" doesn't exactly blend in.

"I come across as campy, a little old-fashioned," said Skelton, "but I always thought of myself as the Frank Sinatra type."

Meade Skelton isn't on the cover of any big-name music magazines. His latest album isn't generating huge underground buzz, and his performances don't pack the house.

Skelton's gigs are low-key, usually just him and his keyboard tucked into a coffeehouse, waiting in line at an open mike or singing for lunch patrons at the Farmers' Market.

He isn't even big in Japan.

So what's the story?

The story is that in an age where everything from the car you drive to the gum you chew is supposed to define you, this guy says no thanks, I'll do that myself.

The story is that a kid who was picked on in school for being fat and weird didn't grow up, drop 40 pounds and fall in line with the crowd. He stayed strange, ate lots of spoon bread and then put on a hat and sang like the holy reincarnation of Hank Williams.

"There aren't a lot of Meades around," said Brooke Saunders, founder of the Floating Folk Festival. "He's like Johnny Cash -- a total original."

Saunders met Skelton when the young musician handed him a demo tape. Saunders found the songs "rough but interesting" and invited Skelton to play with the musical collective in 2000.

"Two things he has going for him are an extraordinary voice and songwriting ability," said Saunders. "It's a rare combination."

Skelton grew up the youngest of five children in rural Loudoun County. On the farm he listened to records by Marty Robbins and Patsy Cline and learned how to play music by ear.

"I never thought I had a lot of talent," said Skelton. "I just like to be creative."

His soft, lilting drawl sounds like Mister Rogers doing "Gone With the Wind." He's well-mannered, humble and endearingly optimistic.

"I play simple and sincere. I don't know how to do it any other way," said Skelton.

When pressed, he describes his style as "country-politan," but not every composition calls for a cowboy hat.

Skelton shows range, switching from simple piano lounge love songs to more rollicking keyboard tunes that conjure Bruce Springsteen and Elton John.

Every so often he slips in a spiritual.

But even though Skelton believes deeply in God, he isn't out to convert anyone.

"I don't like to force church on people," said Skelton. "A lot of folks don't even know I'm Christian."

"Members just love him," said Judy Fiske, minister of music and youth at Tabernacle Baptist Church. "He's a very unique character."

Tabernacle Baptist, on the corner of Meadow and Grove in the Fan, was one of the first stops for Skelton when his family moved to Richmond in 1998.

Just out of high school, he joined the choir. Soon after, he persuaded church members to let him play his own songs. Now, every few months, Skelton plays a mix of classical, gospel and country songs for the 11 a.m. Sunday congregation.

"If I don't have him play, there is a list of people who tell me they want to see Meade," said Fiske.

Since 2001, Skelton has self-released three albums.

His debut, "Songs by Meade Skelton," is a tribute to classic country crooners. The second, "They Can't Keep Me Down," is a mishmash of country-pop ditties and catchy personal anthems.

Skelton said that after rough days at school, he'd come straight home and sing karaoke in his garage.

One has to imagine that those moments spawned brutally honest tunes like "Proud to Be Square," "They Called Me a Porker" and "What's So Great About Rock and Roll?" Skelton's simple songs capture teen angst just as well as any noisy grind from Linkin Park or System of a Down.

His latest, "Songs of Love," is a sappy but sincere collection of covers and standards. One of the album's two original cuts is "Nicole, Will You Marry Me?", a modest musical proposal to actress Nicole Kidman.

(She's been his muse since he saw "Batman Forever.")

On the off chance she says yes, the happy couple will have to move. There just isn't enough space for a Hollywood entourage in Skelton's Fan duplex.

He lives with his father, a retired accountant, on Floyd Avenue.

Skelton opened the door a crack and said, "Let me take the dog upstairs."

When he came back down, we walked to the "music room," a spare, almost empty, former dining room. A modest Baldwin piano sat tucked in the corner. Family photos crowded the fireplace mantel.

Skelton's mother passed away 15 years ago, but her face is everywhere. The old black and whites keep her young, a vision with good bones and immaculate complexion.

Skelton pulled out the piano bench and sat down. He stretched his fingers and walked them across the keys.

Rocking back and forth, he eased out short melodies. He apologized for not singing.

"Allergies," he said.

Above him, a gold-framed Jesus portrait hung on the wall. The top of the piano was bare, save for the small trophy Skelton won for his original classical piano composition, "Victory." He was 10 years old.

Success for Meade Skelton means a song in the Top 20. And even though he knows what he wants, he's in no hurry to get there.

"I realize that in Nashville I'd just be another wannabe," he said. "So I'm trying to work out my flaws while I'm still here."

For now, Skelton is content to shop his songs to small record labels and play all the local and regional gigs he can get.

"I don't try too hard with my image," he said, "I never try to be something I'm not."

And even though Skelton said he's given up Krispy Kreme . . . he's not letting go of the coat.


Contact Pete Humes at (804) 649-6733 or phumes@timesdispatch.com
This story can be found at: http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD/MGArticle/RTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031784233136

- Pete Humes, Richmond Times Dispatch


Discography

-Songs By Meade Skelton, (2001)

-They Cant Keep Me Down, (2003)

-Songs Of Love, (2005)

-My Loudoun County Home (Single) 7" vinyl release -2008

-From The Outside Looking In/Sweet Tea 7" vinyl release (2009)

-We Talk In Circles (EP) 10" Vinyl Release -(2011)

-Meade Music" (LP) 12" record- (2012)

Photos

Bio

Meade Skelton Haufe, otherwise known as "Meade Skelton", grew up in Loudoun County, Virginia, and began playing music at a very early age . He moved to Richmond at 18, and quickly got involved in the music scene, playing with such bands as The Floating Folk Festival, The Kate Lawtown Band, and The Gravity Hounds. Meade has range- switching from tender love ballads, to uptempo rollicking piano licks on his keyboard. Meade has a strong expressive singing voice- combined with a heartache meets humor style, and he puts pop, country, jazz, americana, and gospel music into a blender and calls it his own. As a member of Tabernacle Baptist Church, Meade also performs with The Meadow Street Band , and is a part of the music ministry. He has also played such famous venues as The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, and America's Cup of Polo in 2008 at Morven Park, Virginia. Meade has been dubbed Richmond's own "Piano playin' cowboy", switching from simple love ballads, to rollicking country flavored rock n' roll tunes. There's a lot of variety in Meade's music, gaining him fans, all up and down the East Coast !

Band Members