Marty Stuart, Jim Lauderdale and Ray Benson are among the guests joining the Akron, Ohio band.
The Shootouts are aiming to please. Again. And they’ve brought a few friends along to help.
Just a few months after the irresistibly entertaining traditional country band from Akron, Ohio released its Top 10 Americana Radio album Bullseye, lead vocalist and guitarist Ryan Humbert received word that the legendary Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel was interested in producing their next album. So, course, The Shootists quickly headed back into the recording studio for Stampede, which is set for release today wherever you stream or buy your music.
Call it an all-star product, and you won’t be far off the mark. In addition to production duties, Benson and members of Asleep at the Wheel contributed to the song “One Step Forward.” Additional guest contributors for Stampede include the cream of the Americana music crop: Raúl Malo of The Mavericks (on “I’ll Never Need Anyone More”), Marty Stuart (“Better Things to Do”), Jim Lauderdale (“Tomorrow’s Knockin’”), and Buddy Miller (“Anywhere But Here”).
Sample The Shootouts’ Stampede
Drawing heavily on their Rustbelt Ohio roots, The Shootouts once again offer on Stampede a unique and energetic fusion of Americana, honky tonk and Western swing that their fans often describe “country music for people who don’t like country.” And while their hometown of Akron — the city that produced The Pretenders, The Black Keys, and Devo — isn’t a place normally associated with country music, those influences are integral elements in their trademark sound.
Ryan Humbert and his bandmates are wrapping up a busy week of album launching this Friday night with their very first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry. We enjoyed our brief conversation with Ryan a few days ago — and we’re looking forward to watching the big show tonight.
C&I: We’ve heard what The Shootouts play is country music for people who don’t like country music. Can you expand on that?
Ryan Humbert: The reason that we’ve kind of almost hung our hat on that a little bit is because we can’t tell you the number of people that come up to us at shows and say, “Boy, I don’t like country music, but I like what you guys do.” And we kind of chuckle to ourselves because it’s kind of like, well, surprise! This is country music. What you’re hearing on country radio nowadays is not as rooted in the traditional parts of the genre as it is rooted in nowadays pop music. Pop rock, things like that.
So we kind of pride ourselves on taking all the different parts of the genre that we love — western swing, Bakersfield, classic Nashville, some of the roots rock stuff, the Americana stuff — and filtering that through our lenses and making country music on our own terms. But that happens to be very traditional-minded. And so I think it’s so different from what people are used to hearing, or what they think of as country music nowadays, that it works for us. And so every time people come up and say that to us, we take it as a compliment. And kind of an interesting angle for a country band to be told that so often when we are a very tradition-based country band.
C&I: Well, now you finished one album, Bullseye, and I guess you were getting ready to, I don’t know, lounge around the pool, or at least relax.
Ryan: [Laughs]: Yeah. Bask in our riches.
C&I: But then you got a call from a gentleman named Ray Benson.
Ryan: Yeah, with every record, it’s certainly led us farther down the path here of where we want to go. With the first record, that’s how we met Chuck Mead. And we gave a record to Chuck, and next thing you know, we said, “Hey, let's make a record together.” Then we made Bullseye with Chuck Mead, and we released that in April of 2021. And no more than a month later, a mutual friend said, “Hey, I’d like to connect you with Ray Benson. I think that Ray would really appreciate what you guys do.” And he did. He connected us with Ray. And Ray liked the band.
And the best part is, I have to certainly give credit to my friend here when Ray said, “Well, what does the band need?” And my friend said, “Why don't you produce a record for them?” And the next thing you know, four months later, we were in the studio with Ray and Asleep at the Wheel. So it’s just funny how things happen. I mean, we released that record. We were still right in the heat of the marketing and promotion for that record when this happened. And we had to make sure that we could take advantage of that, right? I mean, it's not every day you get to work with a, what, 11-time Grammy winning country legend?
C&I: True. It’s not like you could say, “Sorry, we’re kinda chilling right now.”
Ryan: [Laughs] Or, “Sorry, Ray. We're busy right now.”
C&I: What was your reaction — where were you, what were you doing — when you got the call that you were going to be performing at the Opry?
Ryan: We were backstage at a show in Defiance, Ohio. It was before the show. And our agent called, and he kind of pulled a fast one on us. He said, “Hey, at the album release party we were looking to plan in Nashville, it looks like we're not going to be able to do that.” And I said, “Oh, okay. Well, why is that?” And he said, “Because you guys are making your Grand Ole Opry debut that night.” So then [vocalist Emily Bates], who happened to be not at that performance, happened to be in Europe on vacation at the time. And so I turned around and use that exact same joke on her.
C&I: Are you nervous?
Ryan: Are we nervous? I mean, yeah, I would say a little bit, right? I mean, it is respectfully nervous, right? We’re walking onto hallowed ground, right? And when we walk on that stage, we’re going to be following so many greats that have done that before us. It is truly an honor. And so respectfully nervous. But also I think confident enough in what we do that we’re excited to go up there, and excited to go up there and do our thing as well.