Rusty LuQuire has some stories to tell… 

 

During the golden era of college radio and alternative rock, Rusty LuQuire was the singer and lyricist for both Western Decadence and Storm Orphans. That experience, along with working with national, regional, and local acts as a talent buyer and booking agent for Southeastern Attractions, may have given Rusty multiple perspectives on the music business.
But it certainly provided him with stories.
Add to those tales his early, rich experiences in a family that was literally enveloped by music of all types, and Rusty has in his musical makeup what might be called a “living lexicon of appreciation.” From that lexicon he has crafted music that, as he puts it, “are the styles I listened to and sang but never really wrote or recorded.”

 

Rusty shares a little about where it all came from…

 

Son of a preacher 

My dad was a Methodist preacher. He had played clarinet in the 1950s, and his goal was to be a big band leader, but that style of music and the very idea of a big outfit was going away by then. In the 1960s I started playing drums, so I was Little Ricky to his Desi, you might say.  

 

First thing I learned to play was “Wipeout” by The Surfaris. To my young mind, it seemed if I mastered the propulsion of a surfing tune, then I would be ready for whatever else came along. I was a little dude then, but “Wipeout” was my signature number for any friends and family who had to suffer through it. 

 

When my Dad’s ministry got going full-on during the early 1970s, we lived in Guin Alabama and suddenly he’s like a minister/DJ, playing Godspell or Jesus Christ, Superstar soundtrack albums at full volume on the home stereo. That’s when we were making regular drives to Birmingham, where Dad would drop off my sister at the Municipal Auditorium to see local radio station WVOK’s multi-artist shows called “The Shower of Stars.” Big lineups of touring acts; you might get Tommy James, Neil Diamond, The Monkees, The Guess Who, and Paul Revere and the Raiders on the stage for one evening. I’m just a kid then, soaking up all those great styles of music on the radio.    

 

 8-track and AM gold 

I was lucky to be around when you didn’t need to turn that radio dial very often. Anything you wanted to hear was just already “there.” The AM stations played everything and anything in that era of “AM gold.” We call it that now, but in the middle of those kinds of cultural scenes, nothing stands apart as such. It’s the background. The wallpaper. The weather. It’s making me who I will be one day, but the process isn’t visible. It was simply the music I was into. It was just a matter of going down the road listening to the O’Jays, Elton John, Steppenwolf, Sly and the Family Stone, all on the same station. Marvin Gaye, Carol King, America, Neil Young, Simon & Garfunkel, Al Green, and the Doors. Plus so many one-hit wonders and singer-songwriters that, for me — and so many other folks of my generation — define the period. 

 

 We had a lot of that stuff on 8-track cassettes. That was our road music, and we needed it because Methodist headquarters were in Birmingham, Alabama, so that had us coming to town all the way from Guin. Dad drove this blue Chevy Impala that had a 4-track player, and I recall being very relieved to know that it would play the 8-tracks too. Sometimes we might head over the mountain to Homewood and swing by Rumore’s Record Rack, a little shop owned by a local DJ for one of those AM stations that played everything. We would load up on 45s. That section with the Top 40 singles was a magnet for me.  

 

 I really can’t think of many moments in our daily lives when my family and I were not listening to music. We basically had the American songbook at our disposal. It was filtered through gospel to some degree, but I was still getting a big dose of everything.

 

Church choir rock star 

I started mowing lawns as a teenager to earn some cash of my own. I’d cut our yard, then cut the property at the church where my dad was preaching. Every dollar went toward albums from whatever record shop I could get to. Those albums became a universe unto themselves. I would immerse myself in the cover art, the liner notes, the lyrics. Just get totally absorbed by Elton John’s early stuff, especially Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I had set up my drum kit in the living room of the parsonage, and I would play to Nigel Olsen’s drumming on those Elton songs. That parsonage was just across from the church itself, and I’m next door plowing through this Elton stuff with no idea how that’s going over with anyone interested the church 

 

 My mom said I could start going to shows when I turned 13, and you know I made the most of that. We lived in Alberta near the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa, and in the 1970s you’ve got Neil Young and Led Zeppelin coming through to play the coliseum. That’s just blowing us away back then. Suddenly Los Angeles and London were right down the street, so to speak, on any given day. Of course I’m in the church choir too, and then the school concert band. But by that time I’m saturated with pop music and really leaning toward being a rock star. So I definitely didn’t want my friends coming to see me play a waltz in the school Christmas show.  

 

 When you’re a preacher’s kid, well, a PK marks time even more carefully than the average teenager. In our day we knew exactly when we could get our drivers license. We knew the exact date and time we could legally enter a nightclub. And I think somewhere in my mind I felt like there was a specific date and time I could become cool, and that’s where music is the golden ticket. 

 

 I had been getting my cues about what was cool — music style, the clothes, the look, the whole vibe — from all the TV music shows, going back to when I was nine years old and saw the Jackson 5. After that it was “The Midnight Special,” “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert,” “Soul Train.” Yeah, I was in the church choir and we enjoyed all that cool stuff from Godspell, or singing “One Toke Over the Line” and “My Sweet Lord” on the church bus. I was way into all that and I cherish it even now.  But there’s no getting around it; TV in the 1970s was teaching all of us kids back then what rock stars were supposed to be. Fringe vest? Bell bottoms? Long hair? You just go down the list. 

 

 So many elements, so many stories

All the music that made me was, in many respects, put aside when I began singing in bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Punk rock and New Wave and a half dozen kinds of new genres basically infiltrated my young adult years via MTV, college radio, independent record stores, and the local scenes. Storm Orphans was an aggressive alt rock band and a long, long way from AM gold, or Dylan, or Wings, or Elton John. 

 

So now I have that perspective, and I’ve found myself almost overwhelmed by the possibilities that come from looking back at my formative influences. So many directions I can take with so many elements of country, blues, gospel, soul, pop and rock. Because those songs we grew up with were stories — certainly for the artists but also for the listeners. You look at that rich history and you immediately start finding your own stories. This music we’re doing now is how we tell those stories. 

 

Main focus

Our main focus at one time was to get in the studio to cut a record just so we could tour to promote that record. Now we have a whole new agenda, which is to get in the studio, record some good tracks, then release those so we can get back in the studio and do it all over again. I’m going back to my roots. This record is an intentional return to old style country, soul, blues, and gospel music: the styles I listened to and sang but never really wrote or recorded.