By Rachel Montoya
R Buckle Road, a local 7 piece, all original, country rock band, is earning the respect and loyalty of those in love with the country music genre and even those who are not. With over two hours (and growing daily) of original music that captures relatable themes both fun and serious within a seasoned rock backdrop, they are shredding stereo types across the board.
Americana rock artist, James McMurtry, may have voiced it best when he said, “I started out thinking I was an artist. Turns out I’m just a beer salesman.” This has been the reality for many a band that is not only charged with the responsibility of bringing a great performance, but also increasing the bottom line of the bars and venues that hire them. Somehow, based on the fact that R Buckle Road has been asked back to every venue they have played (i.e. Schmidy’s Tavern, Palm Canyon Road House, Roc’s Firehouse, Boondocks, Boulder NV, Kern and San Diego County fairs etc.), this band has found a way to entertain and hold a crowd, dancing or not, with their own tunes, while keeping venue owners happy with their investment.
While it is true that not everyone loves country music, the numbers of people following this band are increasing with every performance. “I don’t think we’ve played a single gig where I don’t have at least one person come up to me and say, ‘I don’t usually like country music, but I like you guys,’ shared one of the band’s singers, Lisa Lynn Morgan. “I think a lot of it is because underneath the relatable themes, hooky lyrics and good natured fun, is a whole lot of musicality – aka good old fashioned Americana rock and roll.”
This band does not have a single member that, as talented as they are, would meet the age limitation required to compete on American Idol. The fact is it’s probably been a while since any one of them have been carded. R Buckle Road is a group of seasoned music veterans, some of whom have had semi-professional careers since they were 15 years old. I think it’s best said in their song, “Overnight Success”, a true and honest story written by the band’s guitarist, harp player and vocalist, Larry Pedersen about the musical journey he and fellow band member, best friend and wife, Cat Pedersen have been on for a good number of years:
I left home when I was young, There was so much more to do than I had done
I love thinking back to Tennessee; We were 18 and we were free
And the songs we wrote were young; We were living a dream
Days go by and good times pass; The road is long but it goes by fast
Change is the only promise you can count on
Days have been kind in the Motel 6; but I still love Hank and Lennon best
So much more to do than I had done
Change is good if you got some
I’m not sure how long it’s been and I still can’t quite remember when
I first thought of makin it big
I don’t care how long it takes, one thing’s for sure….
We ain’t done yet!
We may be 30 years too old, But we’ve got 30 more to go
To find out if the two of us had wasted years and worn out all of our lucky times
How it goes so fast
We’ll be the oldest overnight success
R Buckle Road is fronted by Greg Vincent, a prolific and experienced songwriter, who had postponed his pursuit of his music dreams to take care of business for his family. Having spent his season in Nashville, writing in the music city’s circles, shopping songs and even having some picked up by other artists, Vincent has a knack of penning songs that are extremely palatable to the ear; hooky without being overly commercial making them very easy to like the first time you hear them. Combine that with his charismatic personality and charm, Vincent could easily be a solo artist. But he has hand chosen one hell of a band to back him up. The fact that each of these members also writes, gives this group a huge arsenal of songs to entertain with.
“Since the very beginning R Buckle Road has been evolving as musicians, songwriters and performers, says Vincent. “Three years later, it is no different; we continue to evolve, but are in a place where we deserve to be heard! A very good time is sure to be had by all!”
The Pedersens, Mike, lead guitar and backing vocals, his brother Larry, acoustic guitar, harmonica and vocals, and his wife Cat, percussion and vocals, have been making music together since they were teenagers. “I started playing music in a Dixieland band with my brother Mike when I was 10,” reminisced Larry Pedersen. “We played 3 nights a week at a pizza parlor, and a few shows at Knott’s Berry Farm. At 15, I was asked to join the Young Americans (a group credited as being the first “show choir”). That’s where I met my wife, Cat; we were on a 3 month USA tour. There were two Australian tours and one far East and Japan tour. We also did shows around LA including the Hollywood Bowl. Later I worked as road manager for a touring show group that Cat and Mike were a part of. In 1975 Mike, Cat and I put together a trio and played in Japan for 6 months. From then until 1984, we worked together and apart in various bands until 1997. Cat and I moved to Palm Desert and started playing as a duo, and eventually as a trio with Mike as Meltdown.”
Meltdown, covering the infamous tunes from the 60’s and 70’s now also features co-R Buckler, Lisa Lynn Morgan. Mike and Larry also own Awesome Dude Video known for their work with local celebrities, television shows and movie projects.
Lisa Lynn Morgan, a vocalist born and bred here in the desert, first got noticed singing when she was 11 years old at midnight mass by Mama and Frank Sinatra who were in attendance. Performing around the desert for audiences at local country clubs and downtown venues in Palm Springs as a teenager, Lisa left the desert on a music scholarship to Azusa Pacific University. Her singing allowed her to play with different bands in central California opening for bands like Tower of Power, Gary Allan, Rhett Akins and The Bellamy Brothers to name a few. When she was asked to sing with the New Christy Minstrels in Oakhurst, her love for country and American folk music and the harmonies that accompanied them, was firmly planted. She ultimately landed on Laughlin and Las Vegas stages, such as the Stardust, Harrah’s, The Flamingo, the Riviera, and the Monte Carlo to name a few.
After retiring in ’99 to focus on family and a career in marketing (aka “the dreaded day job”), Morgan was brought back to the desert to care for her father diagnosed with cancer. It wasn’t until this past New Year’s Eve, 2 years after her father’s passing, that Lisa re-entered the music scene with fellow band members from Meltdown. “I couldn’t be surrounded by nicer, more talented people. I am extremely blessed to be able to find my way back to music and do so in such good company.”
Holding up the seriously strong rhythmic foundation of the band is Carl Angello. “I picked up my first pair of drum sticks at age 9 and I haven’t stopped. I have played in more bands than I can remember – everything from rock, blues to tribute bands. Now I have the pleasure of being part of R Buckle Road. This is more than a band; it’s family and I couldn’t be happier.”
Howard Kaemerer, a classically trained bass player since 1968, met Larry and Cat in 1975 with The Young Americans. He and Carl bring tasty dynamics to the sometimes epic rock arrangements surrounding the passionate songs this band produces, alongside their fun, living it up, high energy, originals.
This Saturday, with the help of some of Southern California’s favorite West Coast Roots Americana rock and blues artists, Riz Orkestra and Wade Crawford and the Country Trash, R Buckle Road will be holding a benefit concert for some very important local charities. The benefit for The American Red Cross (our local, Desert to Sea Region), C.A.S.A. (Court Appointed Special Advocates for kids in the foster care system) and House of Hope (women’s recovery home in Desert Hot Springs), will commence at 8pm sharp, hosted by Scott Sear of Kix Hot Country 92.1.
Tickets are only $10 at The Date Shed located at the Empire Polo Fields off of Monroe in Indio. The evening’s music will be recorded live and followed by an all-out open jam with some of the valley’s best musicians. The Date Shed has a full bar, a huge dance floor that should be very busy and full of John Miller’s, A Cowboy and a Dancer group. Outside, on the huge patio, the Shed’s famous $2 tacos will be grilling. This is set to be a fun night for all. Be sure to get there early as seats are first come, first serve, and it’s expected to be standing room only.