Carrying on the strong west coast tradition of creating authentic country & western music with a sharp edge, the San Francisco-based band Red Meat is dedicated to keeping honky tonk music fresh and alive. Formed in a garage in the Mission District in 1993, Red Meat takes its inspiration from the likes of Bakersfield legend Buck Owens, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Sr., and the Carter Family. They also count Gram Parsons as an influence and visually they recall the salad days of the Modesto, CA-based Maddox Brothers and Sister Rose.
The sextet is comprised of a few misplaced Midwesterners who found a home for their muse in the City by the Bay. All stand on a solid foundation -- several members of Red Meat were also part of the S.F. act the Movie Stars. Scott Young, who supplies the country and bluegrass fiddle as well as guitar and vocals for the band, is the band's primary songwriter. Pedal steel player Steve Cornell, bassist and vocalist Jill Olsen, and lead guitarist Michael Montalto also contribute original material. Drummer Les James adds to the band's distinctive vocal sound while frontman Smelley Kelley is not only the "vocal artist" of the group, but also the head comic and audience relations specialist.
It was a relatively quick ride into the limelight for Red Meat from their inception in 1993. By 1994 they were already playing to huge Bay Area crowds. This momentum on the home front propelled them into the recording studio. Their debut project on Ranchero Records, Meet Red Meat, was released in 1997 and displayed the band's many facets, including comedy. Tunes like "One Glass at a Time" established them as neo-honky tonkers of the truest kind while songs such as the highly acclaimed "Inner Redneck" proved that they didn't take themselves too seriously.
The success of this first project allowed Red Meat to branch out and tour the Southwest. Big favorites in Austin and Los Angeles, live performances by this Northern California outfit became SRO affairs. Meet Red Meat landed at number 19 on Gavin's Americana chart, and they scored a Top Five single in France when they released Meet Red Meat in Europe.
A second project was slated to begin in the Spring of 1998. Recording in Los Angeles, Red Meat placed itself in the capable hands of Dave Alvin, "the King of California." Alvin, whose deft touch and heartfelt appreciation and understanding of the West Coast Sound in all its many forms, had already made history when he produced the tribute album to another Bakersfield legend, Merle Haggard. Tulare Dust, lauded for its intensity and integrity, gave Alvin the credentials to become an in-demand studio producer. He is significant to the successful careers of Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys and Bakersfield acolytes the Derailers. Released in July 1998, 13 reflected the growth of a hard-working band. Still true to their original vision, Alvin's experience and expertise gave Red Meat the ability to take their music to the next level.
Professional and fun, 13 makes a very bold statement in favor of the tenets of traditional country & western music, and underscores Red Meat's dedication to the music they love and make. Alameda County Line followed in early 2001. ~ Jana Pendragon