Don Gallardo’s new album Hickory might sound a tad familiar if you appreciate the good stuff- the stand by artists and albums that never let you down: Wilco, Beatles, The Band, Neil Young, Bob Dylan. There is enough complicated listening out there and our ears deserve something that’s righteous, honest and ballsy in just the right spots and Gallardo nails that equation.
Last year Gallardo signed to UK indie-label Clubhouse Records who released Hickory in the UK to coincide with tour there last year, which ended up receiving some really good press over there. Hickory got a 4-star review in MOJO Magazine and The Telegraph called the album “One Of The Best Country Albums of 2015,” which put Gallardo in the great company of Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, Patty Griffin, Gretchen Peters, Willie and Merle, and more. Hickory paired Gallardo with producer David Pinkston (Linda Ronstadt, Marshall Tucker Band) and a handful of A-list sidemen, including Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson), Rob Ickes (Merle Haggard), Randall Bramblett (Bonnie Raitt), Guthrie Trapp (Alison Krauss) Micah Hulscher (Emmylou Harris) and Brad Pemberton (Ryan Adams). Hoping to use that momentum over here in the US., Hickory is set for release in the U.S. on July 22nd.
Having being based in Nashville now for the past eight years, following his musical beginnings in Marin County, Gallardo offers the best of two of the most identifiable musical communities in the states. On this 13 song album, country and twang meet insightful songwriting, colorful rock and a sense of purpose and community. With four full-length albums, a live acoustic release, and an EP under his belt, Gallardo has earned a broad audience on both sides of the Atlantic.
Glide is premiering “When The World Wakes Up” (below) off of Hickory, a calming composition of folksy openheartedness, well worn vocals and incisive rock.
“This song was written about the struggles of being a musician, “says Gallardo about the track. “When you are a musician who doesn’t have much money and lives month to month, then you don’t really have a budget to work with for promotion and radio and all those things that help spread the word. This song is homage to just putting your head down & working hard. If you don’t belong to the in-crowd or you keep getting turned down, you just gotta keep moving forward and learn from your mistakes and all the closed doors.”
Glide had the opportunity to ask Gallardo a few more questions in regards to his work and new album…
What has been the reception overseas to the songs on Hickory over the past year and how would you describe your fan base outside the states and here in the states?
People have been overwhelmingly positive and receptive to the songs overseas. At every single show, Travis Stock (bass player whom I bring to the UK with me) and I see people singing along and just having a great time. It really gives us that extra push to make each song special. After every show overseas, we try our best to meet everyone who comes and sees us because we appreciate them supporting us. We hang at the merch table and introduce ourselves to everyone buying merchandise.
What is the greatest complement you’ve gotten from a fellow musician on your music?
I opened for Rosanne Cash years ago at the Fillmore in San Francisco and her band mates came and knocked on our dressing room door and told me I had a great voice. That was pretty special. Recently, I ran into Aaron Lee Tasjan, who is friends with a ton of my friends. When I introduced myself to him he said “ Hey man I really like your songs.”
What do you think most distinguishes Hickory from your earlier work?
It’s just a lot more mature in terms of songwriting and production. We took longer on this record and got some great guests like Mickey Raphael, Randall Bramblett, Rob Ickes, Brad Pemberton, Micah Hulscher, and Guthrie Trapp (along with our band, How Far West) to come and compliment some of the songs.
Musically what steps do you take to incorporate your influences into your music without sounding too much like your influences? I hear a bit of Wilco in the album but I could be wrong.
Well, I grew up on all sorts of music. My dad was a Beatles fan and my mom was an Elvis fan, but they listened to everything in between like The Eagles, Willie Nelson, Elton John, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, CCR….so to me if it sounds like Wilco (who I do really respect and like) than all I can say is I hope it is because we have a lot of the same influences.
How would you describe yourself as a guitarist and what other instruments are you proficient at?
I wouldn’t necessarily speak much about my guitar playing. I’m a rhythm guitar player with no frills. I’m a songwriter and continue to work hard at writing songs that I hope people will like. Other instruments I play live at shows are mandolin and a bit of piano but I wouldn’t call myself proficient at them.
Talk about your musical hometown and what a typical Don Gallardo gig is like there? What are your favorite places to play?
My hometown is Fairfax, CA. It’s a small little hippie town north of San Francisco on the opposite side of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s kind of where all the musicians such as The Grateful Dead, Van Morrison, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Santana moved to after the 60s. I haven’t played there in a long, long time but shows there always seem to be like big reunions with all the friends and family whom I grew up with. There are a couple places I used to play, Peri’s and 19th & Broadway, which both have live music seven nights a week. Last time I played back that way was at Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads, which is a great venue. In San Francisco, the Great American Music Hall & The Fillmore were my favorite. I moved to Nashville eight years ago so I haven’t been back to play a full headlining show in Fairfax in quite a long time. My favorite places in Nashville are The Basement East, Exit/In, The Family Wash & The 5 Spot.
Say you have an unlimited budget for your next recording, what direction would you most like to go?
I would use the same approach that I do every time I go into the studio. I bring a handful of songs out of the huge batch of songs I’ve written for the album and just try to make a good album. I try to let the song create its own vibe. Our band (Travis Stock, Andrew Squire and Clint Maine) has been together for 6+ years so each player gets to paint his own color on the canvas. Then we go over what works and what doesn’t. But with unlimited budget, I would bring my producer/engineer friend David Pinkston (who produced/engineered Hickory) and maybe go to a studio that has plenty of vibe and history like Muscle Shoals, Capricorn, Sun; there’s a big list but I’m pretty sure we would end up at David’s studio at the end going through all the details of the production. His studio is amazing with a great vibe.
For your fans- name your ten favorite albums of all time?
Not in Any particular order and I added one more as a bonus:
1. Grateful Dead – Workingman’s Dead
2. Neil Young – Harvest
3. The Beatles – Rubber Soul
4. Cephas & Wiggins – Cool Down
5. The Band – Music From the Big Pink
6. Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
7. Uncle Tupelo – Anodyne
8. Whiskeytown – Strangers Almanac
9. The Mother Hips – Shootout
10. The Byrds – Sweetheart of The Rodeo
11. Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
Don Gallardo will be celebrating the July 22nd US release of Hickory with a show at The Family Wash in Nashville on Thursday, July 21.