Rick Shea
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Rick Shea

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"Rick Shea and the Losin' End Bound for Trouble"

Rick Shea and the Losin' End Bound for Trouble

Tres Pescadores tpcd-6 2005

Bound for Trouble is a re-mixed and remastered version of Shea's 2000 album called Sawbones. Three songs have also been added, namely the title song, Nick Lowe's "Never Been in Love" which features Christy McWilson on vocals, and a live acoustic version of "Texas Lawyer." Shea always surrounds himself with great musicians, such as Dave Alvin (on a couple of tracks) and fiddler Brantley Kearns (on most other tracks). The only song not written by Shea, other than Lowe's, is the old Lefty Frizzell hit "Saginaw Michigan". Shea is blessed with a strong, resonant voice and he shows impeccable taste as a producer and arranger. He has released several classic albums since this album was originally released, and this revised reissue is a worthy addition to his body of work.
Paul E.Comeau (Comeauville NS, Canada)
- Dirty Linen

"Rick Shea & Patty Booker, Our Shangri-LA, Tough & Tender"

Tough & Tender

Rick Shea & Patty Booker
Our Shangri-LA
Tres Pescadores Records

Talk about chemistry: Our Shangri-LA establishes just how beautifully local scenesters Rick Shea and Patty Booker work and sound together. Produced by the San Berdu-raised, Covina-based Shea (a longtime member of Dave Alvin’s Guilty Men), this impeccable 13-song collection of traditional West Coast honky-tonk duets (most of them originals) recalls the hard country call-and-response pairings of Rose & Buck, Merle & Bonnie, and George & Tammy. Costa Mesa singer/songwriter Booker is a descendant of Okies who brings to the material a tough bite, tender vulnerability and sexual tension. Shea complements her beautifully with his deep-voiced, more nuanced phrasing and delivery. Alternately upbeat and bitter, these story-songs naturally focus on the up-and-down affairs of the heart, where jealousy and betrayal (Shea and Booker’s "Baby That Ain’t True"), deep romantic yearning (Shea’s "I’m No Good Without You") and relative domestic bliss (Booker and Jann Browne’s "Our Shangri-LA") add spice to everyday life. And true to the heartbreak that is country music, Shea’s vivid, gut-wrenching "The House That We Once Lived In" closes the album with a physically decaying home working as a metaphor for a weary, withering marriage. The timeless, rich music sparkles throughout, particularly the haunting steel-guitar and dobro playing of Gary Brandin, Shea’s twangy guitar licks, and Eddie Baytos’ folksy, rootsy accordion/washboard flourishes. But what’s most remarkable about Our Shangri-LA is how it honors country’s time-honored roots without being a slave to them. Now how unusual is that? by John Roos
- OC Weekly

"Rick Shea and Brantley Kearns, Trouble and Me"

Rick Shea and Brantley Kearns
Trouble and Me
Tres Pescadores TPCD-3 2002

Shea and Kearns have been playing together since the late 80s. Kearns is well known for his fiddling on Dwight Yoakums first three albums and has played on Shea's two acclaimed albums. Both Kearns and Shea (guitar, mandolin) are part of Dave Alvin's band, the Guilty Men, but this is the duo's first actual album together. Trouble and Me, which was produced by Shea and Alvin, is a collection of traditionals and old favorites mixed in with a few originals. The album begins and closes with wonderfull instrumentals, the closer being "Byrons Iron/Bakers Acre," a tribute to Kearns fiddling influences.

Shea and Kearns are both enthralling singers and equally exciting instrumentalists. There is something quintessentially Californian in Shea's bittersweet voice. He is very effective on material from that most talented of folk couple, notably Mary McCaslin ("San Bernardino Waltz") and her late husband Jim Ringer ("Rachel"). When Kearns sings the Carter Family's "Loafers Glory" (made popular by Flatt & Scruggs) and the traditional "Sail Away Ladies" his Appalachian roots come to the fore, not only in his choice of material but also in his fiddling and the subtle drawl in his voice. The originals hold their own solidly next to those songs. Dave Alvin plays the National steel guitar on a Cajun-inflected version of Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Black Snake Moan" that is also an unbridled acoustic rocker. Most of Trouble and Me is stunningly good.
Paul E.Comeau (Comeauville NS, Canada)
- Dirty Linen

"Rick Shea & Branley Kearns, Trouble and Me"

Rick Shea and Brantley Kearns have stepped away from their duties as members of Dave Alvins Guilty Men long enough to record this intimate and gorgeous half originals/half covers all authentic country blues/bluegrass album.
They show they are no mere "O Brother " come latelies as the songs that they've written are woven to perfection in among the traditional compositions by everyone from E.J. and Maybelle Carter to Harlan Howard. Its no surprise that Shea and Kearns have a unique chemistry between them; Shea's solo albums have been wonderfull representations of his California country and folk heritage and Kearns North Carolina bluegrass roots are the perfect complement to them.
The blending of the two talents barely shows the stitches between the Carters "Loafers Glory" and Shea's own "Parish Road" or the traditional "Sail Away Ladies" and Kearns old timey "Aint It Almost Like The Old Times" Production by Shea and bossman Alvin is sypathetically stripped down and unadorned, allowing the purity of the music to shine through. Brian Baker
- Country Standard Time

"Rick Shea/"

Rick Shea/"Sawbones" (Wagon Wheel) ****

Don't let the guitar god posturings on opening cut "Black Eyed Girl" alarm you; insrumental whiz Shea is as rootsy as they come.
This marvelous collectio of mostly selpenned tunes by the San Benardino-bred, Dave Alvin sideman covers the gamut of folk, gospel, blues, country and even some Mexican idioms, yet each song is crafted with distictive freshness and originality. To top it off, Shea's caramel baritone is as beautifull and resonant as his multistring virtuosity is awe-inspiring.
And that "Black Eyed Girl" tune? It rocks.

-Bob Strauss
- LA Daily News

"Rick Shea, Sawbones"

Rick Shea Sawbones
(Wagon Wheel) Top notch. ****

Rick Shea is to interior California what Joe Ely is to west Texas: his music evokes deep Kern, San Bernardino ans Riverside counties the way Ely nailed down Laredo - two pinches of old Mexico, a blast of exhaust from the bossman's new Suburban and a baseline of working-stiff deperation. Whats country about his music emanates from the kind of beyond the clichés-lie-deep-truths approach to songwriting that Merle Haggard always excelled at. Throw a whomping band sound behind it (Shea plays with Dave Alvin; Alvin returns the favor here) and the best goddamn voice I've heard since Merle hisself, and you've hit the jackpot, baby. Some cuts shake with the roiling drama of an oncoming thunderstorm ("Lonesome Cannonball"), there's an ear candy instrumental ("Mesquite"), a fine 12-bar jam ("Piedmont Ridge"), and a beautifull ballad ("A Bend in the River"). Shea wrote or co-wrote 12 of the 13 cuts here; the cover is Bill Anderson's "Saginaw Michigan"
Jackson Griffith
- Tower Pulse

"Rick Shea, Honky Tonk Redemption"

WEST COAST COUNTRY, FORMERLY A GLORIOUS and deeply influential movement with a sound as distinct as Memphis soul, is indisputably in its sorriest-ever shape. Once a thriving, nationally renowned community of California-based million-sellers (Bob Wills, Gene Autry, Tex Williams, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Ferlin Husky and Jean Shepard, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard) and less successful but equally high-impact performers (Merle Travis, Maddox Brothers & Rose, Wynn Stewart), California country singers today are an increasingly endangered species. Nationally, there are only two Coast representatives -- Haggard and Dwight Yoakam; locally, there's an army of them, but the vast majority are either chained to the Hot Country Top 40, crippled by the New Depression's hillbilly-cliché mentality or falling into the self-indulgent Americana singer-songwriter bag. For fans reared on a previously intoxicating variety of talent (and who take all this country music stuff deadly serious), it is a terrible, depressing mess.
When one of us gets lucky enough to stray into a spot where Rick Shea is performing, it's like entering a dream state. Shea's mix of almost reverent dignity and sensitive interpretation, put over with one of the finest, most natural-born country baritones in the business, is stunning. The 45-year-old, San Gabriel Valley­based singer-guitarist's mix of Coast country standards, original songs and Tin Pan Alley numbers plays out like a pilgrimage to honky-tonk Holy Land. His guitar style is tasteful, skilled and vivid, gently recalling the intricacy of Bakersfield's Roy Nichols, and his low-key vocals, all warmth and simplicity, create an ideal showcase for any lyric.
Considering all the country mediocrity that surrounds him, it's notable that Shea owes little to the Golden State's torchbearers Haggard and Yoakam. Shea may worship the former, but not to the point of becoming another cut-and-paste sound-alike; he's the complete opposite of the latter, whose West Hollywood wardrobe, highbrow vocabulary and messages of deep personal pain appeal as much to rock fans as they do to contemporary-country listeners. Shea's understated approach is a talent earned in the late-night, Benzedrine-driven realm of San Bernardino roadhouses during the '70s and '80s, a time and place where he worked from 9 till closing, six nights a week, and could at any given time find himself sharing the bandstand with everyone from Fred Maddox to Johnny Rodriguez to the Palomino's cross-dressing C&W renegade Troy Walker.
"I used to work at Clyde's, Loretta's, the Fontana Inn -- most of those places are gone now," the Maryland-born, San Berdoo­raised Shea says. "And none of them were as rough as you might think. They were an older crowd, and they'd been goin' to these places since the days when they could go see Wynn Stewart. Basically, it was just hardcore working-class, a bunch of truck drivers and whores, there to do what they were doin', and they all seemed to like us a lot. The truck stops were different in that you could play more slow songs than I ever thought possible. Every other song was a slow one, because these guys were there to dance -- and none of 'em were good dancers. They were there to hang out with these girls -- well, a little more than hang out."
The need to appeal to such a crowd and his own sense of craft forced Shea to develop a sincere country style: "The vocals were just a matter of trying to sing the songs, to try to enunciate, get the lyrics across clearly and just sing the notes. That's what singing is -- you're basically working around your limitations. I pretty much sang the way I sing before I was really too familiar with any of this stuff. I was familiar with Merle Haggard from a pretty early age, but I was more connected to Buffalo Springfield and the Band when I was in high school. But that was also when I started listening to country radio, getting to know the songs. I'm such a huge fan of these older songs that even with my own writing I just try to structure them along those lines. After a certain point, they set their own mood, in a certain time, so I just try to stay in that, with the language and images I use."
APART FROM THE BRILLIANT FIDDLER-MANDOLINIST Brantley Kearns, honky-tonk gal Kathy Robertson, not to forget Los Angeles stalwarts Cody Bryant, Heather Myles and Patti Booker, there are precious few other L.A. country artists focused more on expression than formula. Shea has an ongoing collaborative relationship with most all of these performers, but it's Kearns, who first came to national attention as a key member of Dwight Yoakam's band in the late 1980s, who provides the most fertile and ongoing partnership.
"I met Brantley in '90 or '91, through Heather Myles," he says. "We played some places out in Riverside, did that for a while, then she did her first HighTone album. We went on the road a little, then Brantley and I just kept it goin'. A lot of us are so into that old - LA Weekly,

"Flores joins Shea at ABC tonight"

Flores joins Shea at ABC tonight
By John Sollenberger

Check out Arcadia Blues Club tonight to catch what promises to be one hell of a hootin' hollerin' foot-stomper of a show, when Rick Shea and the Losin' End are joined by rootsy diva Rosie Flores.
Shea and company have become a regular fixture at Arcadia 's premier music venue. A subtle and sweet balladeer on one hand and ass-kicking Tele-slinger on the other, Shea shifts gears as smoothly as a trucker climbing Kellog Hill. As he points out in his bio “For me the story come first, the musical setting follows and an acoustic guitar seems like a good place to start, but sometimes you need to plug in the Telecaster and put a little grit on things.”
He's good at grit. His music was born out of his upbringing in the old honky-tonk haven of San Bernardino where he busted his chops playing folkie coffeehouses and country bars. He's blended the sound of country classics like Merle Haggard and the Carter Family with roots rock and Southwestern influences for a good-timin' sonic stew.
San Antonio-born, Southern California-raised singing guitarist Rosie Flores is known as the “rockabilly filly,” but that's not all that she brings to the party. She, like Shea, blends honky-tonk with a dash of jazz and a spoonful of her Tex-Mex heritage. According to her bio, “If Patsy Cline and Brian Setzer had a child who grew up litening to Ernest Tubb, Elvis, Billie Holiday and Keith Richards, perhaps they'd sound like me.” You get the idea.
- Pasadena Weekly June 2007


Shelter Valley Blues July 2009
Bound for Trouble 2005
Our Shangri La 2003
Trouble and Me 2002
Sawbones 2000
Shaky Ground 1999
The Buffalo Show 1995

#1 on Far Charts Jan - Mar 2004 "Our Shangri La"
Top Ten Lists 2003, 2004 and 2006 for "Trouble and Me", "Our Shangri La" and "Bound for Trouble"
regular airplay on XM and statellite radio and Independent Stations in US and Europe, 2003 - the present.



“For me the story comes first, the musical setting follows and an acoustic guitar seems like a good place to start, but sometimes you do need to plug in the Telecaster and put a little grit on things. I’ve always liked the analogy that your songs are kind of like your children and for me I guess that means a few of mine may need to go to reform school”.

60 miles east of Los Angeles where the urban sprawl starts to thin out and the desert starts to take over sits the old railroad town of San Bernardino. In 1978 when Rick Shea was growing up there, dozens of honky-tonks and truck stop bars still lined the outskirts, tough places where the remnants of California’s golden age of country music still drifted through like the hot winds.

“I started playing folk and coffeehouse gigs after high school and sort of fell into the country music scene...as a sideman and a singer I worked 6 - 7 nights a week. It was rough sometimes but a good education, that’s where I first heard a lot of those old songs - Merle Haggard, Lefty Frizzell and Buck Owens - every night.”
Shea has managed to parlay that tough but real education into a successful career as a solo artist, with five critically acclaimed albums and appearances at the Strawberry Festival, the Tucson Folk Festival, the Canmore Folk Festival, the Freight and Salvage, McCabe’s and many of the other folk, rock and acoustic venues in California and the West.

Shea is a deeply evocative singer and a formidable guitarist. His songs are almost cinematic in their scope and embrace everything from norteño and border rock to the more traditional folk and country music of California that he grew up with.

Due out in July 2009, "Shelter Valley Blues" is the title of Rick's latest album. Recorded at his home studio outside Los Angeles, Shea plays acoustic, electric, steel guitar and mandolin and is joined by guests including Heather Myles, Moira Smiley and, from Los Lobos, David Hidalgo and Cougar Estrada. The mood of the album swings from the hard country of the title track to the Irish-tinged folk of "Ty Robby" to the Rockpile meets Tex-Mex romp of "Sweet Little Pocha". Shea covers a wide spectrum of styles with confidence and ease yet always maintains respect and reverence for the music that reflects a career playing at venues from dusty San Bernardino honky-tonks to Madison Square Garden.

“Staunchly independent...represents the best of California music,” Jonny Whiteside/LA Weekly

As a sideman, Shea has worked with everyone from roots rock kingpin Dave Alvin to folk chanteuse Katy Moffatt to indie rock legends R.E.M. As a member of Dave Alvin’s band, “The Guilty Men”, Rick toured the U.S. and Europe for 6 years as an opener and multi-instrumental sideman, playing everywhere from Hollywood to Austin to Madison Square Garden and played on most of Dave’s albums during that time including the Grammy winning Public Domain.

“He has a storyteller’s sense of detail and more, a sense for which details to leave out,” Jim Washburn/OC Weekly

After three solo albums and two collaborations, “Trouble and Me” (2002) with fiddler/singer Brantley Kearns which Dirty Linen called "stunningly good" and an album of hard country duets with Patty Booker, “Our Shangri LA” (2004), called "nothing short of a masterpiece" by Shaun Dale in Cosmic Debris , Shea says he's enjoying playing again as a solo artist.

“I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I do, music to me is a very direct and pure form of expression that can reach across time and place. The songs I go back to are the old ones, the ones where you feel the connection 70-80 years later like you were in the same room, that’s what gives me goose bumps.”