The epic, longstanding conundrum concerning faith goes something like this: Just because you believe in God doesn’t mean God exits; on the other hand, being an atheist doesn’t negate God’s existence. Whatever the case, Leroy Powell and Tim Jones (collectively as Whiskey Wolves of the West) are taking a god-like approach to their release of their recordings by blessing us with new music every other Wednesday for the rest of the year.
Although at first glance this songwriting and performing power squad might appear to have been collaborating for decades (youthful good looks and exuberance notwithstanding), the duo actually began around three years ago.
“Whiskey Wolves of the West’s first show was at Stagecoach Country Music Festival in 2016,” says Jones. “However, the first time I met Leroy, I was working at the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles and talent wrangling for Tom Morello’s monthly Nightwatchman show. Leroy was playing with Shooter Jennings at the time, and they lit up the place. I got stuck with Leroy’s date for the night, Winona Ryder, because he went to the after party before it had begun. I found him there happy as a clam smoking a cigar and drinking a bottle of champagne stuffed into an old boot in a hot tub. I gave him accolades for his playing, and he told me to go get him some more bubbles! We rekindled our obvious mutual affection on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Simple Man Cruise in 2012 while my band Truth & Salvage was opening for 38 Special on the lido deck and Leroy was direct support for the big Van Zant!”
Since forming the duo, the Whiskey Wolves recorded and released their debut album Country Roots through Rock Ridge Music in March 2018. Armed with a large lot of recorded and unreleased material, Jones and Powell are taking a different approach this year on spreading their music to the masses with a biweekly release of a new song throughout 2019.
“We were very economical and picky with our first release, Country Roots, and had some material left from some of those sessions,” says Jones. “We’re always writing, recording, and feeling very creative, and with the help of CDBaby, we could communicate directly with fans and the main channels of music distribution. We’re able to have full control, and people’s attention spans are short. Mine sure is! Releasing a song every week is too much — every other week is just right. And #whiskeywolfwednesday has a better ring to it than #whiskeywolffriday!”
It also doesn’t compete with #godsunday.
Whiskey Wolf Wednesdays began with the release of the single “Freedom” on March 6. While writing their song “#1”, a track on Country Roots, Jones originally pushed for the chorus to say “freedom,” and that idea morphed into its own song.
“Leroy and I both have a distrust and dislike of the military-industrial-congressional complex and big banks,” explains Jones. “The word ‘freedom’ has so much intrinsic meaning, but post 9/11 had been co-opted by a lot of brands, politicians, and religious leaders to sell what they wanted people to buy. Leroy came up with the story of a farmer seeing everything he’d dreamed of slip away right in front of him and having to question what it was he really wanted in the first place. I got my big chorus, and ultimately the song is a great metaphor for what I want out of writing and life in general.”
This week’s release is “Old Flame”, written by Powell, Jones, and Carey Ott. “Tim, Carey, and I had a writing appointment scheduled, which I had totally forgotten about,” says Powell. “Tim texted me late the night before reminding me, and I got nervous since I had absolutely nothing to bring to the session. I immediately sat down with my guitar for a couple of hours and brainstormed some chords and melodies. I landed on this line where the chorus melody hangs in the air while the chords glide underneath. It was sad and spooky — perfect for the Whiskey Wolves. The next morning, I showed up with the idea, and in no time Carey, Tim, and I had a form for the tune and Tim started slapping lines on there. Tim really put the work in on the lines and got it to almost tell a story. We recorded a work tape that day, and I forgot all about it until a couple days later when Carey put together this demo of the song. It was amazing to hear it with this Calypso-type pulse he put on it. Taylor Powell nailed it in the studio.”
The next single “Nashville Condominium” will be released on April 3. “It has just the right amount of irony and also features some of the most impressive bass playing I have ever heard from someone near and dear,” says Jones. Whiskey Wolves recorded the track at Bill Reynolds’ Fleetwood Shack with Chris Powell on drums and Chase McGillis on bass.
Whether or not at the end of the year the Whiskey Wolves will put all singles released on an album is currently up in the air. “We hope so! If we sell enough downloads to make a vinyl lathe master for a triple album,” says Jones.
You can find Whiskey Wolves of the West most Saturday nights at the Nashville Palace, playing their residency gig from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. to a full dance floor.