The Rounders
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The Rounders

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In terms of blues bands, the Rounders are the brilliant kids who give teachers fits — they color outside the lines, answer rhetorical questions and turn in the kind of work that every authority figure swears was stolen from the masters, but thorough investigation reveals it to be the work of completely original thinking based on solid knowledge. The Oklahoma City five-piece featuring singer Brian Whitten, guitarists Ryan Taylor and Michael Stone, percussionist Stu Williamson and bassist Dave Spindle apply that solid knowledge of American music to a sound that might crackle with the authenticity of a Folkways recording, but feels too alive to be a museum piece.

In 2000, a band of high-school dreamers crumpled up the template, invited Whitten and Spindle to join them in their efforts to become a true blues-based rock band, and renamed itself the Rounders. The band did not play the kind of rolling Texas blooze-rock that metastasized in the wake of Stevie Ray Vaughan, but a sound filled with reverence for Delta and Chicago blues styles that thrived completely in the here and now. Six years into a career that attracted immediate and consistent praise from both the indie-rock press and the blues establishment, the Rounders follow up the success of 2004’s Now-A-Day Songs with their first release for Blind Pig, Wish I Had You.

Woven guitar lines and hard shuffle beat usher in the opening song, “God Knows I’m Tryin’” setting the scene for Whitten’s powerful baritone voice — a sound with an indeterminate age or provenance but possessing a surplus of emotion. This is a young band of old souls without a real stylistic home, and Wish I Had You combines hard blues-rock, roots-based indie rock, traditional country and even a marching blues on “It Wasn’t My Baby.”

“If we had a band motto, I think it would be, ‘We like to make old music sound new and new music sound old,” said Taylor. “I don't know if there is a unifying thread for the songs on this album, but if there were, I think it would have to be the mixture of modern and traditional music.”

And so it goes on Wish I Had You: the Rounders’ talent for timelessness and their expansive musical palette keeps listeners on their toes — the electric country of “You Know Better Than That” takes side trips into Dickey Betts-style finger picking and even Eastern modalities, and the slow-burning “Through No Fault of My Own” contains elements of English blues that rev into a monstrously rocking chorus. But the Rounders do not simply combine disparate styles for the sake of showboating. Everything works, and every sound has a purpose, whether it is the railroad rhythms of “Oh My Dear Mind” or the devastating crunch of “When It’s Bad.”

Thanks to the Rounders’ musical chemistry, the songs fit well together — no tracks feel like wild departures on Wish I Had You — they all travel the same road at varying speeds and degrees of recklessness. Williamson said that some of his favorite bands have succeeded in incorporating non-traditional elements without diverging too wildly from what makes those artists special, and the same is true of the Rounders. “It makes your conception of what that band sounds like bigger. Once a band has an established ‘sound,’ it can be applied to other genres without it sounding like a stretch.”

The Rounders’ musical eloquence has served them well in reaching wildly different constituencies. The group competed in the International Blues Challenge at the annual W.C. Handy Awards in Memphis, but also blew away the indie-rock competition when Oklahoma City alternative rock station “The Spy” held its “Underground Talent Search.” No matter if it is dyed-in-the-wool blues purists or young musical adventurers, the Rounders’ music speaks to them. There is a genuine desire for something real that does not sound like a hand-me-down, and Wish I Had You is brand-new, but with classic lines.

“I think a lot of people are certainly weary of the music being passed of as blues these days,” Taylor said. “We started this band in an attempt to offer an alternative to the endless supply of ‘blues-rock’ bands on the market. We weren’t interested in using blues clichés to help promote ourselves as blues artists. I don't know that we've succeeded in this, but I believe people are becoming hungrier for this kind of approach.” — George Lang
- George Lang


“Their innovative style and artistic vision are expressed beautifully through the 13 originals on Wish I Had You, the band’s third album and their major label debut for Blind Pig Records….. Wish I Had You is a remarkable record that defies categorization and a fine testament to the exciting new directions the blues can go in.” – (Living Blues, April 2007)

“This Oklahoma City quintet definitely has its own take on American roots music, twangy and country-flavored but rooted more in blues, as if Credence has been reincarnated as a more bluesy version of its old self. The guitars of Ryan Taylor and Michael Stone speak together in a singular voice - jagged and ringing, full of rich harmonies and crystalline echo, even toying with Butterfield/Bloomfield "east-west" modalities on "You Know Better Than That." The interplay between them and Brian Whitten's fluid, fevered baritone is fresh and spontaneous-sounding even if it's doubtless been carefully worked out. The rhythm section (drummer Stu Williamson, bassist Dave Spindle) choogles on laments such as "Oh Why," though most of the songs are built on crunching riffs that rise and fall and build to cathartic climaxes. Eventually, their remarkably full sound succumbs somewhat to a certain sameness, but this impressive debut marks them as a band with lots of room to grow.” - (No Depression, March/April 2007)

“It’s easy to call this Oklahoma City-based quintet a blues band, but that label inadvertently undermines what it is that the band is trying to do with their music. Though rooted in traditional blues structures and affectations (different members have cited R. L. Burnside as a predominant influence), the sound that comes through the speakers borrows equally from roots music and alt-country. This, their sophomore release, forms some solid songs around what can best be described as a lo-fi revivalist Americana. Just because this sounds familiar doesn’t mean it’s not unique.” - (CMJ New Music Monthly, Feb 2007)

All 13 tracks are originals, and as much as they recall the past, the end result is new and modern. The band claims their intention is to provide an aalternative to contemporary blues-rock, and the alternative heard on Wish I Had You is a powerful harbinger of change. – (Blues Revue, June/July 2007)

“You have to reach back about 40 years in rock history to find the spiritual forefathers of this Oklahoma City based quintet. The original Fleetwood Mac -- pre-Buckingham/Nicks -- played this same free-flowing, blues based rock. And comparisons to the Mac go one better: They utilized the same formula of lead guitar aping the notes sung by the lead vocalist, with a second guitarist playing either the same melody line behind the beat or in counterpoint. The Rounders don't try to reinvent the wheel, but they pay homage to the '60s British blues movement through their hypnotic -- but rarely boring -- mid-tempo blues groove. It's a sound that should appeal to alt-rock fans, as well. The baker's dozen tracks here largely succeed in meeting guitarist Ryan Taylor's stated goal of making "old music sound new and new music sound old." – (Chicago Sun Times, 2/11/07)

“Not unlike Treat Her Right two decades ago and the Black Keys these days, this five-piece Oklahoma City-based band investigates the intersection of blues and rock with confidence on its third - but first widely distributed - album. The group keeps a moderate emotional temperature throughout the 13-song program, averse to trumping up contrived drama or recycling stale ideas. Guitarist Ryan Taylor turns a clear eye on the songwriting process, coming up with one strong melody after another and lyrics that don't contradict his musical intelligence.” - (Downbeat, March 2007)

“The music is Delta blues based, but bolstered by an edgy electric attack that adds sturdy rock and a slight country twang to the equation….. Wish I Had You shows the promise of a creative and talented band not content to color within the established guidelines of blues or rock.” – (All Music Guide)

“For an album that’s almost entirely about breakups and regret, Wish I Had You is enjoyable throughout, and neither the tunes nor the mood gets repetitive.” – (The Onion, 2/8/07)

“Although 2007 is still in its infancy, the maiden effort from Oklahoma City roots-rockers The Rounders is a strong contender for debut of the year and best of the year honors. This unpretentious, visceral band expertly creates a deceptively simple primal rock that's grounded in Chicago/Delta blues and twanging country that easily recalls early Stones, Animals and John Mayall's Bluebreakers…"Wish I Had You" is an impressive debut, showcasing a new blues-country-rock band firing on all cylinders.“ - (Virginia-Pilot, 3/10/07)

“Oh, My Dear Mind is one of those tracks that instantly identifies a band's greatness…..It's the best single I've heard this year. But given that this year is a few weeks old, let me qualify that: it's one of the best singles I've heard in years, a song so good that it actually justifies buying the rest of the disc, just to reward the band for creating it in the first place. If this were on the radio, I'd phone in and demand they play it again.” – (Edmonton Sun, 1/14/07)

“Thankfully, youth bias didn't stifle the creativity of the twenty something musicians in the Rounders. Wish I Had You, the group's new Blind Pig Records release, is one of the best blues debuts in years and covers a lot of ground, from hyper-charged '60s~era electric British blues and garage rock to Delta blues and honky-tonk.” – (Dayton Daily News, 2/16/07)

“If The Rounders aren’t on your radar yet, the young bluesmen from Oklahoma soon will be.” – (Wichita Eagle, 2/23/07)

“Now, after building a regional reputation, the quintet has an album, Wish I Had You, out on one of the country's premiere blues labels, Blind Pig Records, and is starting to gather some acclaim…” – (Cleveland Free Times, 2/21/07)

“Call them Oklahoma's answer to the North Mississippi All-Stars: The Rounders are five former high school pals who discovered Delta blues as youngsters and have been working to update it ever since. Their first CD for Blind Pig Records, Wish I Had You, has an infectious blend of that old-school grit, some Allman Brothers boogie and more modern rock, soul and roadhouse flavor.” – (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2/2/07)

“While I can't pinpoint all the various influences that went into the music of Oklahoma City rockers the Rounders, I'm guessing most of it was originally encountered on vinyl. The band's mix of traditional blues with roots rock and just a dabble of Appalachian folk harkens back to an analog era and should please fans of revivalists like the North Mississippi All-Stars and Gov't Mule.” – (Madison Capitol Times, 2/8/07)

“Instead of looking south (into Texas) for their music inspiration, they looked in a few other directions: first north and east to Chicago and the electric blues there, then east and south toward Mississippi and the Delta blues — Buddy Guy plus Son House, but not Stevie Ray, in other words.” – (Kansas City Star, 2/1/07)

“The Rounders are metro musical staples whose very name is synonymous with quality.” – (Oklahoma Gazette, 1/24/07)

“The young bluesmen, all under 30, mostly stick to a stripped-down garage-rock vibe reminiscent of The Black Keys (though more tuneful and less distorted) and The White Stripes (with more fidelity and less angst).” – (Fargo Forum, 2/6/07)

“Whether you're a blues purist or a modern rock fan, The Rounders will not disappoint. Their fan base stretches from Black Keys enthusiasts to Pinetop Perkins. That's a wide path. Together or apart, there is talent in this band that will last many decades. These guys sound like they've been doing this all their lives. Hey wait, actually they have.” – (Dayton City Paper, 2/14/07)

“With six years under its belt, this rocking blues band promises a nearly unequaled performance among local groups. If Chicago blues does it for you, The Rounders have the cure for your appetite. If you aren't a huge blues fan, this could change your mind.” – (Daily Oklahoman, 03/9/06)

“What a great CD these guys came up with. A very refreshing sound, lots of energy, and you can tell these cats rock… very tight band, and CD. I truly was not sure what year it was! Could it be 1940’s with the ragtime or even a bit of Detroit Blues in the 1950’s, or maybe the 60’s, or …? Nope, it’s 2005 and these guys tackle these songs like today’s rock stars with one exception! They do it right, and they do it well!” – (Payne Couty Line, 2/18/05)

“The fact that few, if any, bands make accessible records this steeped in oddball traditions isn't all that surprising but stumbling upon one that does it this well is one of the great treats of life.” - (F5 Wichita, 2/18/05)

“Best Show of the Year”
“Tearing through a set that paired its originals with blistering covers ranging from Tom Waits to a barn burning cover of James Mathus' "Blues for Blind Melon", The Rounders proved to be one of the most amazing, tightest and all around exciting live bands I've seen, bar none.” – (VOX Magazine, 8/2/03)

“The Rounders have a sound all their own, and they definitely know how to work a crowd. They are classic and modern, poetic and simple. The Rounders are the type of band you can dance to. They are they type of band you can cry to. Above all, though, they are the type of band you will actually want to listen to.” – (LOUD Magazine, 6/4/02)

- Various


Discography

LPs-
Wish I Had You (2007)
Now-A-Day Songs (2004)
Little Bitty Can of Worms (2003)

Photos

Bio

Radio:
Over 326 stations across the globe have added Wish I Had You to their playlist. The record is in heavy rotation on XM Radio, has been featured on the nationally syndicated World Café program, and has appeared on the following charts:

1. Living Blues Charts
2. Americana Music Association Charts
3. Roots Music Report Charts
4. Media Guide’s AAA Charts
5. Jambands.com Radio Charts

Press:
“It’s easy to call this Oklahoma City-based quintet a blues band, but that label inadvertently undermines what it is that the band is trying to do with their music. Though rooted in traditional blues structures and affections (different members have cited R.L. Burnside as a predominant influence), the sound that comes through the speakers borrows equally from roots music and alt-country. This, their sophomore release, forms some solid songs around what can best be described as lo-fi revivalist Americana. Just because this sounds familiar doesn’t mean it’s not unique.” CMJ New Music Monthly

“This Oklahoma City music quintet definitely has its own take on American roots music, twangy and country-flavored but more rooted in blues, as if Creedence has been reincarnated as a more bluesy version its old self. ” - John Morthland, No Depression

“The baker's dozen tracks here largely succeed in meeting guitarist Ryan Taylor's stated goal of making "old music sound new and new music sound old." Chicago Sun Times

"The music is Delta blues based, but bolstered by an edgy electric attack that adds sturdy rock and a slight country twang to the equation….. Wish I Had You shows the promise of a creative and talented band not content to color within the established guidelines of blues or rock." All Music Guide

“Guitarist Ryan Taylor turns a clear eye on the songwriting process, coming up with one strong melody after another and lyrics that don't contradict his musical intelligence." Downbeat

“…as much as they recall the past, the end result is new and modern. The band claims their intention is to provide an alternative to contemporary blues-rock, and the alternative heard on Wish I Had You is a powerful harbinger of change.” Blues Revue

"For an album that's almost entirely about breakups and regret, Wish I Had You is enjoyable throughout, and neither the tunes nor the mood gets repetitive." The Onion

"Their innovative style and artistic vision are expressed beautifully through the 13 originals on Wish I Had You, the band's third album and their major label debut for Blind Pig Records….. Wish I Had You is a remarkable record that defies categorization and a fine testament to the exciting new directions the blues can go in." Living Blues

"Call them Oklahoma's answer to the North Mississippi All-Stars: Their first CD for Blind Pig Records, Wish I Had You, has an infectious blend of that old-school grit, some Allman Brothers boogie and more modern rock, soul and roadhouse flavor." Minneapolis Star Tribune

Contact:
Stuart Williamson
2720 Huntleigh Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK 73120
405-203-7392
booking@the-rounders.com