By MARK GUARINO | Chicago Sun-Times
October 14, 2013 11:44AM
The parts of Texas where Colin Gilmore grew up and now lives are rich deltas for American song: the flatlands of Lubbock, which Buddy Holly made famous and groomed for generations of songwriters in his wake, and Austin, home to the left-of-center wing of American country music, which includes Jimmie Dale Gilmore, his father, the much beloved vocalist and songwriter.
But Gilmore, who celebrates the release of his second album at SPACE Tuesday, says his own musical path clicked into place with the meeting of Jason and Tim Bennett, two brother musician-producers from Evanston with whom he discovered a shared musical kinship: “We all we realized we had some kind of synergy where everybody in the band was invested in the sound and really bringing something to the table without even being told to. That is pretty rare and hard to find,” he says.
So for the last year, Gilmore has been trekking to Chicago to make “The Wild and Hollow” (Woobietown), his latest album that incorporates tuneful craftsmanship and twang-rock that harkens back to the classic rock of Tom Petty, but also the rootsier pop of the current era, including M. Ward, First Aid Kit and The Lumineers.
“I like that indie rock has taken a turn for the rootsy stuff, that people are discovering more and more what makes a good song and a good recording, and if that comes first, then the style you’re playing should be an afterthought,” he says.
Gilmore’s father and his mother divorced before he was two, but remained friends during his childhood. Which meant that whenever he returned to Lubbock in the summer, he would frequently join his family, including Gilmore’s stepfather Richard Bowden, a fiddler and mandolin player who regularly performs with multi-instrumentalist and producer Lloyd Maines (Dixie Chicks, Joe Ely) for porch parties or living room jams where they would trade songs together.
The music performed downstairs coincided with the music Gilmore was spinning upstairs: Michael Jackson, The Cars, The Clash, Sex Pistols: “Bands that had real hooks,” he says. “That grew into me. It seemed as important as telling a story in a song.” After a stint playing in high school punk bands, Gilmore attended Texas State University in San Marcos, where he graduated with an anthropology degree. From there: opening shows for his father while working as a roadie. The decision to seriously commit to music took time.
“Everyone around me said it’s a wacky world to get into, but I had music around me that I really liked and respected. That made it more appealing and less than an ordeal than just what my dad does for work,” Gilmore says.
Gilmore’s album release show will include his full band, plus Chicago singer Julia Klee, who sings on his new album. He says he and wife has no immediate plans to leave Austin, but his Chicago band keeps him here regularly, playing to an audience that he has steadily groomed in recent years and helped him reach the $10,000 Kickstarter campaign goal to make the new album.
He says musicians in Austin who have established musical legacies through finding other income streams to support it inspire him.
“People have thrown their lives away banging their heads against the wall trying to be a star, but generally, in my family, there are a lot of people who are successful like my dad and Joe Ely who never got huge love from the music industry, but they were great at connecting with the crowd and maintaining that,” he says. “There’s always been an ethic in our crew to treat the music well and have the music treat you well. And to make sure you enjoy that. That’s always been a requirement.”