November 30, 2022 629 PM
MARFA — The Grand Tourists, a country rock group of local musicians that grew out the Marfa Municipal Alliance for Dead Country Folk Singers, released their debut album this week, The Desert Stylings of the Grand Tourists, featuring 10 covers of classic folk, indie, rock and country songs interpreted in the band’s unique style.
Tracks include “I Can Get Off On You” by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, “Mr Mudd and Mr Gold” by Townes Van Zandt, “Single Again” by Gary Stewart and more. The album is available for purchase on Bandcamp.
The Desert Stylings of the Grand Tourists features Ross Cashiola on vocals and acoustic guitar, Jimmy Magliozzi on bass and vocals, Pat Keesey on guitar and backing vocals, Colt Miller on guitar and pedal steel, Scrappy Jud Newcomb on guitar, and Cale Hand and Paul Ritacco on drums. It was recorded in two three-hour sessions at the Marfa Recording Company — the initial session took place in August 2021 and the final in February 2022.
Keesey said the album is the first of the band’s formal recordings and in part came out of a need to provide samples of their sound to local bookers and venues. Many of the tracks are tunes the band chose to highlight because they thought they deserved more recognition, said Keesey.
They included the track “For A Little While,” for example, by musician Ernie Graham, who toured with Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix in the sixties, but never got his own due. Similarly, The Grand Tourists chose to perform Townes Van Zandt’s “Mr Mudd and Mr Gold” because the artist didn’t receive popular recognition until after his death.
“We do a much more kind of full, produced version of his song ‘Mr Mudd and Mr Gold’ with three interweaving guitar solos at the end; it really builds, it’s a very dramatic song, so that’s kind of a nice take on that one,” said Keesey.
The album also contains two tributes to David Berman, of the band the Silver Jews, as well as a cover of “Open All Night” by Bruce Springsteen, originally performed in more of an R&B style that the band chose to give a country spin.
“The idea is always to try to bring something new, and you hope that the band, even if they play a little bit straight, just by being a different group has a different kind of feel for the song. But I definitely like the ones that we’ve added something new to,” said Keesey.
Keesey cited “Always on My Mind,” a song originally recorded by Brenda Lee, later popularized by Elvis Presley, and elevated ever further by Willie Nelson, in explaining his approach to covers. “You never know,” he said. “Sometimes a song just needs another opportunity.”
The one song on the album not sung by Cashiola, the band’s recording of “I Live For You” by George Harrison sees Magliozzi on lead vocals and Miller playing the part of the pedal steel. Miller requested the band play the song, inspired by Pete Drake’s distinct performance on the original track.
“It’s nice that people in the band, everybody contributes to what we ultimately play,” said Keesey.
As far as upcoming gigs go, Keesey said The Grand Tourists are taking a bit of a break, but may make an appearance at a New Year’s party and are slated to play at the Marfa Public Radio fundraiser in Midland on January 19.
For more information on upcoming shows or to purchase the record, visit https://thegrandtourists.bandcamp.com/ or follow the band on Instagram @the_grand_tourists
Editors note: A previous version of this article stated the band recorded the song “If Not For You,” by Bob Dylan and later sung by George Harrison, when in fact the band recorded “I Live For You” by Harrison.