If it seems like there’s a real sense of intimacy, a sort of warm, homespun vibe to “Interstate Lullaby,” the new album by veteran NC singer-songwriter David Childers and his band, The Serpents, that might have something to do with where (and how) it was recorded. Childers, a skilled, incisive songwriter who sits comfortably at the three-way intersection of rock, folk and country just like Guy Clark or John Hiatt used to, made the album in his boss’ living room, playing the songs live with his band and recording them in all-analog sound.
His boss, by the way, is Dolph Ramseur, the owner of Ramseur Records, Childers’ label.
“I’ve worked with Dolph a long time,” Childers says. “I trust his instincts, and that’s how he wanted to do it. And that was fine with me. The other guys were totally into the idea, too. My son Robert plays drums; he has a lot of say in how we do things, and he was always a proponent of the old-school, one-take, everybody-playing-in-the-room-at-the-same-time approach.”
The result is a natural-sounding collection of easy-rolling songs, with acoustic and electric instruments meshing together underneath Childers’ blurry howl of a voice. The 14 rough-hewn gems on the album might not grab you by the throat (Childers is far too subtle a writer for that), but once a tune like the gentle, loping ballad “Twilight Road” gets in your head, good luck getting it out. And the intimate, live-show feel that Ramseur was perhaps hoping for comes through in spades.
“The atmosphere in the room when we recorded it was warm,” Childers says. “It was friendly, And everybody was on the same page. As a performer, I’ve never enjoyed being in a recording studio. I just like playing live shows; that’s the most important thing to me. And I probably enjoyed this project more than any I’ve ever done, because it was more like playing a live show. We were putting this part here and this part there, sort of building Frankenstein’s monster right there on the spot.”
Childers will no doubt be spotlighting some of those beautiful monsters this Saturday at The Spinning Jenny in Greer. Childers will be part of the 2020 WinterSkunk Music Fest, an indoor offshoot of the popular multi-act Albino Skunk Festival. He’ll perform a duo set with fellow singer-songwriter Kyle Petty.
Yes, that Kyle Petty.
The former NASCAR driver and TV personality has long pursued music as a second career, and he and Childers began performing a few years ago, once again under the aegis of Dolph Ramseur.
“Dolph introduced us, I guess initially because he wanted to see what we could do together,” Childers says. “And we instantly hit it off; I liked the guy immediately. It’s hard not to; he’s always ready to shake your hand and he’s not a stuck-up dude. He didn’t act like he was a celebrity or anything, although he is. I’ve had quite a few free meals just by hanging out with him. But we started doing shows and I liked his songs a lot. I think he’s a really good songwriter, and I’d like to see him grow more.”
It might seem odd, a highly regarded singer-songwriter with 14 albums to his credit, working with someone who’s far less experienced, but Childers says that he’s happy to do it.
“I guess Kyle’s in his 50s, and we don’t tend to think of people growing at a later age,” he says. “But I’m 68 years old and I feel like I’m still growing. I want to make people feel good and feel empowered. I believe people should look into themselves and find out what their talents and strengths are and follow those. And I like to try to encourage people to do that.”
What: WinterSkunk Music Fest, featuring Tuatha Dea, Urban Soil, Sierra Ferrell, Henhouse Prowlers, David Childers and Kyle Petty, and Jacob Johnson
When: 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8
Where: The Spinning Jenny, 107 Cannon St., Greer
Tickets: $40 advance, $45 door
Info: 864-469-6416, www.thespinningjennygreer.com