Coachella Valley Weekly – Review – “Pushed to the Side” – The Coal Men

THE COAL MEN “Pushed To The Side” (Vaskaleedez Records)

By  | August 11, 2016 at 6:08 pm |

By Eleni P. Austin

When you think about Nashville, chances are you think about women in rhinestones and spangles, men in cowboy hats, boots and spurs, inevitably those bro-tastic backwards baseball caps.

40 years ago the charts were populated by Willie, Waylon, Merle, George, some Johnnys’ (Cash and Paycheck), and some Charlies’ (Rich and Pride). These days names like Blake, Jake, Luke, Brantley, Brad, Tucker and Kip, (seriously, Kip) rule the airwaves.

Luckily, anyone yearning for music a little less genetically modified and a little more home grown will be relieved to find that kind of authenticity is still readily available in Music City. You just know where to look.

Artists like Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton have flipped the script, concentrating more on song craft than showmanship. By dispensing with the artifice they’ve each gotten down to the grit and grain of Country music, opening the door for other like-minded artists.

Dave Coleman is one of Nashville’s best kept secrets. He grew up near the Big Fork National River, in rural east Tennessee. He considered becoming a park ranger like his mother, but those plans changed once began playing music in his first band. Rock & Roll was his first love but he soon became inspired by Country outliers like Dwight Yoakam, Marty Stuart and Billy Joe Shaver.

Just as he was finishing his studies at Nashville’s Belmont University, Dave signed a publishing deal with Acuff-Rose. The venerable publishing house began in 1942 and was responsible for hits from Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers. It was around this time he hooked up with drummer Dave Ray.

The duo began gigging around Nashville at the end of the 20th century as the Coal Men. They also made ends meet playing on sessions and touring with artists like Matthew Ryan, Jessi Alexander and Taylor Swift. Mentored by the likes of John Prine, Todd Snider, Buddy Miller, members of the Mavericks and the Delevantes, slowly but surely they built a solid following.

Between 2001 and 2013 they recorded an EP, and four full-length records. Nowhere’s Too Far arrived in 2004, Kids With Songs popped up in 2006. A year later they released Beauty Is A Moment. Bassist Paul Slivka, who made his bones with Tommy Conwell & The Young Rumblers, Tony Joe White and Tommy Womack, joined the fold in 2011. Two years later the trio recorded Escalator.

Since then, their music has been featured in hit television series like “Nashville,” “The Deadliest Catch” and “Sons Of Anarchy.” Several times a year they spend week-long residencies at the infamous Key West venue, Hog’s Breath Saloon. Now the band has returned with their latest long-player, Pushed To The Side.

coal menThe album glides into gear with “Depreciate.” Over a teardrop rhythm, languid Spanish guitars and roiling bass-lines comes Coleman’s slow-as-molasses vocals. The lyrics offer a crisp metaphor for aging: the decrepitude of the touring van, from the van’s point of view. “I’m ready for the junkyard, counting down the miles/I can’t remember all my travels, but boy I road’em out in style.”

Three tracks, “Willy Jett,” “Lilly Hurst” and “Travis” co-written with Jeff Wickland, offer the kind of rich and evocative storytelling woefully absent from today’s “I got drunk in my truck and put my toes in the sand” Country music. Downcast baritone guitar notes and a kick-drum beat open “Willy…” The lyrics weave a vivid yarn of a lonely coal miner.

After a brutal week in the mines he seeks solace in alcohol and paid companionship; “Willy came down from the coal camp, dreaming of a woman on his arm/And he found one down on the corner, Lily took him with all of her charms.” Of course, hard living has taken a toll…”He lived by a quicker minute, and drifts further away each night/Bound by the weight of hunger, the burden of an appetite.”

Sun-dappled guitar, a wash of keys and tick-tock percussion anchor “Lily Hurst.” The lilting melody and instrumentation belies what is essentially a traditional murder ballad. Lily is the same working girl that hooks up with Willy, but this time she runs afoul of a jealous customer “needin’ comfort and rest,” but finding Lily already “doin’ what she did best.” The end isn’t pretty; “Which man she was with, I guess I never did hear/ He drew a line left Lily bleeding ear to ear.”

“Travis,” is the saddest saga of all. Honeyed guitar licks brush up against a supple shuffle-rhythm and roiling bass. With an economy of language the song sketches a portrait of teenage ennui at the tipping point; “Travis lived ‘cross town by the railroad track, just his dad and four walls of a dying shotgun shack/His mind was restless, it ached and it groaned/He walked this town, head hung down, most days he stayed stoned.” His suicide is swift, but Coleman reserves his righteous indignation for the indifferent town that never saw it coming.

Three tracks take a break from (to paraphrase Mr. Mojo-Risen) from wallowing in the mire. “The Payoff” is a hard-charging tune powered by a bludgeoning back-beat, driving guitars and Coleman’s rough-hewn vocals. The message here is the end rarely justifies the means.

“Fast Driver” is a sly charmer. Snap-back bass, rattle-trap rhythms and wicked guitar licks take a backseat to Coleman’s lascivious drawl. He almost has the listener convinced that he’s the first guy ever to use driving = sex metaphor. Meanwhile, “Speeding Like A Demon” hooks a shaggy dog, ‘speeding to reach the gig’ yarn to an infectious melody that’s equal parts Bakersfield Buckaroo and Cash-tastic boom-chicka-boom.

The action slows for two songs, “Faithless Eyes” and “A Name.” The former is a twangy two-step that is a kissin’ cousin to the Eagles’ “Lyin Eyes.” The latter is a High Lonesome haiku that notes no matter how we try to out run our legacies, DNA doesn’t lie.

The Coal Men completely color outside the lines on the tribal “Stones River” and on the gutbucket blues of the title track. “The Singer (In Louisville)” closes out the album. A clangorous note of feedback provides a through-line that crackles and sparks for the entire song. With a few deft strokes Coleman presents a not-so-glamorous portrait of life as a working musician. It’s a rollicking end to a great album.

Pushed To The Side is keen and uncluttered. The music of the Coal Men may not be famous, but it’s authentic.

The Tennessean – VIDEO premiere – “The Singer (in Louisville)” – The Coal Men – “Pushed to the Side”


Coal Men reap benefits of rock ‘boot camp’

When Nashville band the Coal Men decided to film a music video for “The Singer (In Louisville),” the closing track on their upcoming album “Pushed to the Side” (out Aug. 19), the roots rock trio knew exactly who they wanted to star in it: their wives.

“We begged them to be the better versions of ourselves (in the video),” frontman Dave Coleman said.

In the playful video, the three women—Stephanie Coleman, Cole Slivka and Kat Martin Ray—sport outfits similar to what their husbands often wear onstage as they strum and lip sync along with the song. Slivka, standing in for bassist Paul Slivka, brought her knitting to the video shoot to keep her occupied during downtime. Director Bob Delevante incorporated it into the video, using it to represent a guitar solo.

This video—and the video for the album’s introspective opening track, “Depreciate”—was filmed at the historic Downtown Presbyterian Church, where the Colemans are members.

“Music can be so narcissistic; this is a reminder that it isn’t the be-all, end-all,” Dave Coleman said.

The Coal Men will celebrate the release of “Pushed to the Side” on Aug. 27 at the Family Wash. Next month, they’ll return to their second home, the Hog’s Breath Saloon in Key West, for what Coleman calls “rock ‘n’ roll boot camp:” seven consecutive nights of four-hour shows.

“I think I’ve learned more doing that than any other show,” he said. “Every time we go there, we get better.”

Creative Culture Journal at RARWRITER Music Page



Nashville Roots

The Coal Men Ready 5th LP

The excellent Nashville trio The Coal Men are soon to release their fifth LP, Pushed to the Side (Vaskaleedez Records). Singer-songwriter Dave Coleman describes his roots-rock trio as “three solid dudes trying to make really honest, genuine music”.  The Coal Men, who have been around for almost two decades, have been mentored by the legendary John Prine and by Todd Snider. Besides The Coal Men, Coleman has worked with Matthew Ryan, Jessi Alexander and a young Taylor Swift. He and drummer/vocalist Dave Ray have been together since the bezginning. 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 is a regular performer there. This video below is not from the new LP, but it nicely displays the smooth musicianship of this band.



The BOOT – song premiere – “Pushed to the Side” – The Coal Men – from “Pushed to the Side”

The Coal Men, ‘Pushed to the Side’ [Exclusive Premiere]

dave coleman the coal men
Courtesy of Vaskaleedez Records

Nashville roots-rock trio the Coal Men, led by Dave Coleman, are exclusively premiering “Pushed to the Side,” the title track to their forthcoming fifth full-length record, for readers of The Boot.

“Pushed to the Side” features a sparse arrangement with tasteful minimalist guitar playing that leaves space for Coleman’s vocals and the characters’ stories to shine through. Thematically, Coleman’s songwriting on the track shows his awareness of the less fortunate that surround him in Nashville, and he brings those individuals to light without resorting to offering cliche solutions.

“Taylor Bates, a deep and literate writer friend, helped me put this song together and use some vignettes about an old man, a young girl and some homeless orphans who are ‘waiting on the tick of a clock and the feeling of a heartbeat’” Coleman tells The Boot. “The space inside the song points at the loneliness we all feel when we need a helping hand or a friendly voice.”

Indeed, “Pushed to the Side” is a recognition loneliness, both as it relates to the song’s characters and as we all feel it. The lyrics describe those who have “been pushed to side, to where it’s too dark to see” and Coleman acknowledges, “It’s the lonely, lonely broken ones that break your little heart.”

“My wife and I belong to a little Downtown Presbyterian Church that does a lot of homeless and urban poor outreach. It’s humbling to hear stories of folks who are pushed out to the fringes. I count myself as lucky to have family and friends, but I’m aware that some folks are all alone out in this world,” Coleman reflects. “There’s a Saturday breakfast that we work at often, where I can use my skills at smiling, serving and dishwashing. I’ve learned we all need to do a hell of a lot more acting on our compassion and to have the courage to help and listen, even if it breaks our hearts sometimes.”

As a whole, the Coal Men’s resume is dense: Guitarist and vocalist Coleman and co-founding drummer and vocalist Dave Ray — who are joined in the Cole Men by Paul Slivka on bass — have been together for 17 years. Coleman has played with artists such as Matthew Ryan, Jessi Alexander and Taylor Swift; Slivka has worked with Tony Joe White, Tommy Womack, Amanda Shires and Elizabeth Cook, among others; and the band has opened for the Avett Brothers, Darrell Scott and Chris Knight, to name a few. Coleman also produces out of Music City’s Howard’s Apartment Studio. The Coal Men are mentored by John Prine and Todd Snider, and the band has Bob Delevante — whom Coleman calls “a father figure” and who co-penned one of Pushed to the Side‘s 12 track — and Buddy Miller on their side as advocates as well.

Pushed to the Side is set to street on Aug. 19. As Coleman explains, “It’s not a concept record, 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.”

Listen to the Coal Men, “Pushed to the Side”:

Read More: The Coal Men, ‘Pushed to the Side’ [Exclusive Premiere] |

RECORD-JOURNAL (Meriden, CT) – JP’s MB – review – The Coal Men – “Pushed to the Side”

Sunday, July 24, 2016

CD Review: New Roots Music Reigns “On Top Of Old Smoky” Along With The Coal Men And The Grahams

From Nashville comes the latest from the roots-rock trio, The Coal Men titled “Pushed To The Side.” It features a dozen tracks of truthful, honest music. Beginning with “Depreciate,” you are swept up by the emotion poured into their music. The song sounds like it could have fit on Bruce Springsteen’s “Devils And Dust” album. The country swagger of “Pushed To The Side” slowly reveals its storied lyrics as you hang onto every word. They pick the tempo up with the country-rocker “The Payoff” and bring in the blues of “Willy Jett,” before returning the gentle folk appeal of “Travis.” The album finishes with the rockabilly swing of “Speeding Like A Demon” and the tale of “The Singer (In Louisville).” To find out more about The Coal Men and their latest release “Pushed To The Side,” please visit

NO DEPRESSION – The Coal Men – album review – “Pushed to the Side”

Deep Mining

The Coal Men – Pushed to the Side