NASHVILLE ROOTS-ROCK TRIO THE COAL MEN
MINE LOST SOULS
ON PUSHED TO THE SIDE, RELEASING AUGUST 19, 2016
Dave Coleman, Dave Ray and Paul Slivka examine life, loneliness on 12
atmospheric tracks, including one co-penned by Americana legend Bob Delevante
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As excited as Dave Coleman is about the August 19, 2016 release of Pushed to the Side (Vaskaleedez Records), the fifth full-length album by his Nashville roots-rock trio the Coal Men, he’s also harboring an unusual fear: that the story of “three solid dudes trying to make really honest, genuine music” isn’t sexy enough to pique journalists’ fancy.
Please, Mr. Coleman, have a little faith. Truth is, there are plenty of angles here, including several in these excellent songs (which we shall explore in a bit, perhaps starting with the sad electric twang of “Faithless Eyes”). But it’s not as if the Coal Men’s history lacks for hooks. For starters, guitarist/vocalist Coleman and co-founding drummer/vocalist Dave Ray have been together 17 years; Coleman’s also played with artists including Matthew Ryan, Jessi Alexander and a young Taylor Swift. Bassist Paul Slivka, who joined five years ago, gained fame with Tommy Conwell & the Young Rumblers; he’s worked with Tony Joe White, Tommy Womack, Amanda Shires and Elizabeth Cook, among others. Most Tuesdays, he appears at the Family Wash with his wife, Cole, host of the “Short Sets” songwriter series. Coleman’s a regular.
And a band mentored by both John Prine and Todd Snider must have plenty of anecdotes about those experiences (even if some must remain, um, unreported). Prine helped distribute the band’s Bob Delevante-produced debut, 2004’s Nowhere’s Too Far, on his Oh Boy label; Snider pushed their 2013 album, Escalator, via his Aimless Records, then took them out on tour. They’ve also opened for the Avett Brothers, Darrell Scott and Chris Knight, among others.
Then there’s that Delevante link: in the ’90s, the Delevantes were at the forefront of the burgeoning Americana movement. Coleman, now producing at his own Nashville studio, Howard’s Apartment, recently shared a full-circle moment by helping Bob Delevanteproduce his new album there; he also plays on it with Ray and E Street Band bassist Garry Tallent. Coleman and Delevante also co-wrote Pushed to the Side’s sweet “Stones River.” “He’s been a father figure to me, teaching me a lot about how to treat people and handle the music business,” Coleman says. “That song is a metaphor of that kind of connection.”
Another hero, Buddy Miller, is also an advocate. Early in Coleman’s career, he played bass in his guitar teacher Duane Jarvis’ band, which opened a Buddy and Julie Millertour; after Buddy became music director of the TV show Nashville, an Escalator track landed in an episode. Sons of Anarchy also featured two Coal Men songs, and their “Farther Find Me Now” heightened a key moment in the reality show The Deadliest Catch.
It’s just watery coincidence, however, that the band makes seven Key West trips a year for week-long residencies at the famed Hog’s Breath Saloon, a nearly 12-year tradition that began with an invitation from the Mavericks’ Paul Deakin and Robert Reynolds. The trio tracked Pushed to the Side during a stay on Florida’s tip, at Lance Taylor’s Southernmost Studio.
“We were playing really well together, very much in sync,” says Coleman, who produced. “We were also pretty exhausted from those four-hour sets. I think that helped us settle into these atmospheric and moody tunes.”
They’re atmospheric and moody, all right; their protagonists forlorn, displaced, drifting. Coleman wrote them solo or with co-authors including Stephen Simmons, Seth Timbsand Jeff Wickland — a lover of Southern Gothic tales who shares credit for the lost souls of “Willy Jett,” “Lilly Hurst” and “Travis.” Their lonely spirits hover throughout the album.
“It’s not a concept record,” Coleman explains, “but the narratives of being pushed to the side, of being on the fringe or alienated; they’re part of the story of the record.” That includes the Nashville experience itself, as intimated in “The Payoff,” a faster-pulsed twanger about trying to break through in a town where too many people make music for the wrong reasons.
Cynicism also infuses much of “The Singer (in Louisville),” which Coleman based on a story Womack wrote for Based On: Words, Notes and Art From Nashville, a book/CD collection of stories, songs and images inspired by one another. Coleman produced the music (contributors include Phil Madeira, Griffin House, David Mead and Brooke Waggoner) and knew the electric friction of the Coal Men’s “The Singer” belonged on Pushed to the Side.
The Bakersfield-nodding “Speeding Like a Demon,” which Coleman calls “total hillbilly,” conveys the flip-side “comical craziness” of road life. “It’s our homage to Jason & the Scorchers, taking traditional country but revvin’ it up in a three-piece rock ’n’ roll band that’s influenced as much by Hendrix as Hank or Webb Pierce.”
A beloved van serves as the metaphoric vehicle in “Depreciate,” which ponders fate with an understated jazz/twang. “It’s really about growing older gracefully, and trying to find your self worth,” Coleman admits. “That’s part of what this band has tried to do. We’ve always been committed to being who we are and not chasing trends.”
Though Escalator featured A-list Nashville talent, Coleman avoided guest stars this time to focus on production for the trio. Half of the tracks contain only vocal overdubs; others received slide guitar, pedal steel and similar shadings back at his home studio. “I wanted to embrace the air; there’s moments where there’s just color, like a triangle note. I tried to be deliberate, to play the right part for the song.” He says. “That’s my mantra.”
An expressive baritone vocalist (he claims Tony Joe White as an influence), Coleman also loves baritone guitar, which he applies to great effect on the title track. Its snaky tempo sets a groove that drives lyrics bound to break the hearts of sensitive listeners. But the album’s dark moments are buoyed by tunes like “Fast Rider,” a sexy, funky ode to his wife.
“We’re just telling stories,” Coleman says. “And it felt good to tell these.”
The Coal Men’s story starts in Jamestown, in rural East Tennessee, where Coleman grew up near the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. He thought he’d join his mother as a park ranger, but once he hit the stage in a local band, music took over. Switching to country when the town’s few rock bands petered out, he fell in love with Marty Stuart, Dwight Yoakam and Billy Joe Shaver. In 1997, Coleman headed to Belmont University in Nashville; he also began studying with Jarvis, Yoakam and Prine’s go-to guitarist. At 20, Coleman got hired to write songs for famed publisher Acuff-Rose Music. He also birthed the Coal Men with Ray.
“I had all these songs and nobody else was gonna sing ’em,” Coleman explains. “So I started a band to showcase them, and somehow, we’ve carried on for 17 years.”
American Songwriter broke the news with a song premiere: “Depreciate”: http://bit.ly/29lYh73
For more information about The Coal Men, Dave Coleman or Pushed to the Side,
please contact Conqueroo:
Cary Baker • (323) 656-1600 • firstname.lastname@example.org
ESCALATOR – photos – press release – quotes
THE COAL MEN
“I’m wearing out this new Coal Men record. I think it’s masterful start-to-finish. Dave Coleman is one of Americana music’s great songwriters, and I hope this record gets the attention it deserves.” – Todd Snider
“It was a treat to play on this record. I’m a longtime fan of Dave’s writing, singing, guitar playing and producing. He has the ability to always combine thoughtful craft and gut instinct in any of these roles. He’s real and his music is too. Give this a listen, you’ll love it.” – Audley Freed (Sheryl Crow/The Black Crowes)
The Coal Men Release Fourth Album Escalator
Presented by Todd Snider’s Aimless Records
August 27, 2013
Dave Coleman and his band, The Coal Men, have released four albums and kept a rigorous touring schedule for more than a decade. Founded in 1999, the well-seasoned outfit is releasing their fourth album Escalator on August 27, 2013 — with an accompanying tour with Todd Snider in October, as well as a solo tour starting at the end of August.
Escalator, is a fully realized showcase for both Coleman’s creativity in the studio and his mastery as a guitarist (having spent time playing on albums for major label studio albums) – and as a bandleader. Produced with the help of Joe Garcia, Escalator features guest performances by Will Kimbrough (Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris), Jen Gunderman (the Jayhawks), and Audley Freed (The Black Crowes, Sheryl Crow) – but at its core this is a stripped-down rock and roll affair.
The band began honing their sound with a 6-month residency in Nashville, releasing their first EP in 2001. “On Escalator, we wanted to document how our live sound has evolved over the years,” Coleman says. The band played all the basic tracks live in the studio. “We wanted to get aggressive, to play loud and hard and sound like the band we’ve become. The lead track, “Last Goodbye,” is a familiar rocker – but with an inventive guitar hook and upbeat – but with a bitter chorus.
From there, Escalator cuts a swath through Americana-rock territory: blues-infused country to best an outlaw wannabe with “Stuck,” and the rock-folk of “Tennessee.” The Jamestown, TN native sings, “Put my Wings to the wind /Leave the rest to the sky /Keep on painting on my pictures /Until the day I die/ in Tennessee.”
There is also mid-tempo pop on “The Fall,” and thick guitars on “Old Friends” – “One call away, they don’t think /They don’t worry, about a good night sleep /Won’t say a word/ They’re just glad, to get you home.”
Songs on Escalator – most penned by Coleman, but with contributions from drummer Dave Ray, who has been with Coleman from the start – offer glimpses of small-town life, economic struggle, and the complexities of romantic relationships like straight-ahead rockers “Role Model” and “Broken Heartland.”
The Coal Men have earned admirers at home and on the road for years, including a yearly sojourn to Key West six or seven weeks a year. It has become a regular planned destination and vacation for many fans that follow the band.
The band’s latest work is drawing particular praise. One fan is Nashville-based music critic and songwriter Peter Cooper: “The Coal Men were intriguing. Now, they’re singular. Their songs are sharp enough to wound, and warm enough to heal. Their songs welcome us to a new and unexpected Nashville.”
While Paul Deakin of the Mavericks says, “Get this record and keep a copy in your car disc changer in case you get a wild hair and drive across the country. It is the perfect soundtrack for an American adventure.”
Kim Fowler – Two Dog Media
Jenni Finlay Promotions
Dave Coleman – 615-228-3290
PRESS Quotes 1/21/13
The Coal Men – Escalator
“Coleman nails the ragged glory of a Neil Young & Crazy Horse attack on the ballad “Old Friends,” and others that pushes some tunes into roaring, gutsy, energized set pieces. Even on slower, more introspective fare such as “Tennessee,” an underlying tension brings edgy emotion as the song leisurely unwinds.”
Hal Horowitz American Songwriter
“…stripped-down rock and roll that ricochets around a pinball machine of pop punk, bluesy stomp and straight-ahead classic rock. “Last Goodbye” and the title cut take their cue from the late 70s groove of Elvis Costello and Graham Parker while “Stuck” and “Better Than” trample afoot with more than a passing nod to Cream and Zep.” Blurt
“This album is full of the kind of infectious joy that reminds us why playing guitar is just so much doggone fun in the ﬁrst place.” Vintage Guitar
“The Coal Men use words as weapons on Escalator. What separates them from other banner waving pulpit preachers is the band’s use of guitar as harmony. The weaving guitar notes wail and whine, rail and rumble throughout Escalator.” The Alternate Root
“The standout tracks truly standout – particularly the Jack Whitesque blues-rock grind “Stuck” and the panoramic ballad “Tennessee.” Also of note are the quirky, laidback blues ditty “Sanity” and the amped up rock riffs of “One Thing At a Time.” Muruch.com
“Like Americana music like me? Then you need to get a hold of The Coal Men, Escalator, with longtime drummer Dave Ray, Nashville based Dave Coleman knows how to write songs with meaning, not the gobblygook that passes for pop-county today. This CD has some blues tendencies, outlaw country, and pure rock – what’s not to like.” MyJoog.com
“There is a whole lot more to this stripped-down rock and roll affair. He paints glimpses of small-town life, economic struggle, and the complexities of romantic relationships in straight-ahead rockers like “Role Model” and “Broken Heartland.” Maverick Magazine
“With about 15 years of experience, the opener “Last Goodbye” could have Buddy Holly nodding in approval.” Ventura County Star
“Guitar-driven rock is very much alive and well on Escalator. Led by Dave Coleman, who wrote all the songs and plays a mean electric guitar…The final results feel live, with the drive and energy of an in-person show. Every song has its share of guitar hooks and catchy riffs. Greg Kihn fans will love it.” Audiophilereview.com
“The Coal Men may not be household names, but they’ve been marrying country and rock ‘n’ roll in a way that’s about as far removed from pop-country as you can get with a deft hand.” The Daily Times
“Led by singer-guitarist Dave Coleman, the roots-rock trio put a few years of sweat and smarts into its fourth album, Escalator, released in conjunction with Todd Snider’s Aimless Records imprint. The power-pop songcraft sparkles, the guitar licks pack a jangly, melodic punch.” Nashville Scene
“Powerful live act” Roanoke Times
“Over a decade of experience lends itself to to the craftsmanship of their fourth album…It is full of earnest tracks that tread country and rock without a note wasted.” Deli Magazine
THE COAL MEN -[ Bio 10/1/11]
Founded in 1999, The Coal Men have been playing there own brand of roots rock ‘n’ roll for twelve years with the same core line up. Guitarist and lead singer Dave Coleman grew up with bassist Jason “Hitch” Hitchcock in rural Jamestown, TN. After playing in high school bands, the blood brothers from the Cumberland Plateau both moved to Nashville. Coleman started writing his own songs, and through luck and fate, wrote for two years at legendary Acuff-Rose Music Publishing.
The Coal Men formed as an outlet for these songs with the addition of drummer and singer Dave Ray, a Virginian native. The band tightened with residency gigs in Nashville. “Playing every Tuesday night for six months was a way to explore songs in every avenue.” The band released their first E.P in 2001 and their first full length record in 2004. Coleman spent time as a side guitarist for major label acts on Warner Brothers Records and Big Machine Records. The band started touring with ventures into North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia.
The album “Beauty is a Moment” brought The Coal Men into 2006 with an extended band. Jen Gunderman (The Jayhawks) joined on keyboards, and Chris Frame (Son Volt) joined playing a second guitar. The Song “Louisiana” from that record was featured on a Benefit album for New Orleans Flood Survivors. The album has been played extensively on Sirius/XM Radio’s Loft Station.
The Bands 2009 album Kids with Songs, found the band back as a stream lined three piece and on the road in the “Silver Beagle” van for a long time, opening for acts such as the Avett Brothers, Chris Knight, and Roger Clyne and the Peace Makers; and also a performance on West Virginia’s Mountain Stage, alongside The Squirrel Nut Zippers and Southern Culture on the Skids. In 2010 the band opened for and backed the Banjo/Slide guitar virtuoso Tony Furtado on a tour out west to Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Wyoming.
The band has parted with ways with former label, Funzalo Records, and is currently working on a more aggressive sounding record in Nashville with the help of producer Joe Garcia and engineer Brian Carter (The Features, The Nobility).
“Dave Coleman and drummer Dave Ray know better than to simply move through the motions. A disciple of the late and lamented rocker Duane Jarvis, whose onstage motto was “Every night different,” Coleman isn’t wired for routine, and Friday’s Coal Men show traded on dynamics and visceral flights rather than aural choreography.”
“(Dave) Ray drummed with a rock ‘n’ roller’s steady pulse and a jazzman’s touch, and his harmonies shimmered over Coleman’s lead vocals.”
“For his part, Coleman, 32, is a distinctive yet versatile (that’s a tough trick) guitar force. In his 20s, some folks talked of him as a budding Kenny Vaughan or Buddy Miller, and he’s now squarely in that league. He makes a three-piece sound like a five-piece, never relying on the kind of silly, flurried-high-note tricks that draw applause without providing substance. His tone is unassailable, and he is essentially producing as he plays, subtly answering vocal lines, bass riffs and even drum fills with pretty-as-you-please six-string responses. He also provides strong vocals and a song sense that ranges from the earnest guitar pop of show-opening “Natural Wonder” to the hooky aggression of “My Last Goodbye,” which would fit happily at home on a late-1970’s Nick Lowe album.” -Peter Cooper
“The laid-back drawl of Coal Men lead singer Dave Coleman falls somewhere between Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant and Alan Jackson. Bluesy Hammond organ and twangy, Allman Brothers-style electric guitar complete the Southern rock vibe on Beauty Is a Moment. Highlights include “Pretty Girls,” in which a syncopated drum beat embellishes the chorus. “They can twist your arm, make you do what they want you to,” Coleman sings, describing the cloud in front of the silver lining. “Outside Lookin’ In” is another gem, this time on the poppier side, with a bouncing, harmony-laden chorus. Songs are mostly populated with thoughts on relationships and childhood memories, but scattered throughout these familiar themes are shimmering dewdrops of lyrical poetry. “Beauty is a moment, like youth it cannot last,” Coleman sings in the title track, but it’s moments like these that will make this beauty of an album last.”
– Mare Wakefield
VINTAGE GUITAR MAGAZINE
“With the addition of Chris Frame (Son Volt) on guitar and Jen Gunderman (The Jayhawks) ..boards, The Coal Men have gone from trio to quintet and their second full-length release, Beauty Is A Moment, reflects creative growth that shows no sign of letting up. Composer and guitarist Dave Coleman – who wrote or cowrote most the disc’s 12 cuts – is the force behind much of what puts The Coal Men into the first rank of roots rock/alt country music.
Coleman writes with the fearless emotional candor that marks the best of Alabama songwriter Will Kimbrough’s work, and the band is just similar enough to the Jayhawks to invite favorable comparison. But despite Coleman’s slight, dismissible vocal resemblance to an earthier more soulful Jackson Browne, The Coal Men don’t really really sound like anyone else. Coleman’s songs have the naturalness of good conversation and unfold with the same freshness. A laconic but literate and expressive lyricist who isn’t afraid to let melody pull an equal share, he paints with fewer strokes than many, yet gets so much out of them. For him and the rest of the Coal Men, beauty is a moment – actually, a series of moments – and there are a wealth of fine ones (“Natural Wonder,” “Cleveland Sky,” “ Louisiana ”) here. Coleman and Frame’s guitars, Dave Ray’s deep-bucket Levon Helm-type drumming, the tight but unceremonious competence of the band, and the quality of the songs put the album outside of trends and vogue.
The next big thing always comes and goes, but everything about Beauty Is A Moment indicates a deservedly long and laudable musical life ahead for The Coal Men.”
MUSIC ROW MAGAZINE
“The Coal Men are one of my favorite Nashville bands. Leader Dave Coleman writes brilliantly and sings with soulful conviction. The striking imagery is in the new album’s title tune: lyrics equaled by its fuzz-tone undertow bass line, slashing electric guitars, pounding percussion and sizzling organ/piano work. These folks deserve stardom, people.”
– Robert K. Oermann
“The Coal Men have risen from the ranks of Nashville up-and-comers to a spot as one of Music City’s strongest, nerviest rock acts.”
— Peter Cooper
“This young quartet’s exhilarating mix of alt-country, roots-rock and pop might sound subversive in its stodgy Nashville, Tenn., hometown, but elsewhere its second album washes over the ears like a summer breeze. Featuring simple, sturdily built songs recorded on vintage gear in a mix that lets you hear the grain in the wood the instruments are made of, “Beauty Is a Moment” lives up to its title – and the Coal Men live up to their buzz.”
– Kevin R. Convey
“Youthful cohorts The Coal Men lay down the roots with a tenacity that belies their tender years.”
— Jack Silverman
THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE
“Nashville’s The Coal Men serve up a huge slice of Americana pie with their second full-length release, “Beauty Is A Moment.” Led by singer/guitarist Dave Coleman, this band manages to epitomize the best of Southern rock without sinking to a redneck stereotype. This is sophisticated rock-tinged pop with a genuine regional flavor.”
– Rudy Panucci