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NEW ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Lucky Ned Pepper


NEW ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Lucky Ned Pepper

By Bob Doerschuk

© 2013 CMA Close Up® News Service
/ Country Music Association®, Inc.

If Westerns are your type of film,
then the name Lucky Ned Pepper might ring a bell: It’s the bad guy in True
Grit
, a nasty, cantankerous character typical of those that prowled the plains
and prairies. It’s also the name Josh Graham and Rick Russell chose for their new duo.

While there’s nothing particularly villainous about these two Bakersfield-based
singers, they do infuse their music with some wide-open, big-sky flavor. The songs
on their debut album, Get Lucky, are contemporary, each written by some
of the best songwriters along Music Row. But they look at home in scuffed boots,
jeans and farmland fashion. Their singing complements these images by evoking
the courtliness, swagger and easy-going humor of cowboy life.

Graham and
Russell have been around long enough to season their sound with experience. For
13 years they were members of the Smokin’ Armadillos. When the group split,
they went their separate ways until 2005, when Russell invited Graham to join
in on a solo project. They formalized their partnership as Lucky Ned Pepper in
2009 and began laying the tracks that led to Get Lucky.

The opener
and first single, “I Remember the Music,” sets the stage. Written by Ashley
Gorley and Wade Kirby, it’s a nostalgic but spirited recollection of good times
and the music that accompanied them. From the celebratory “I Oughta Own This
Bar” (Max T. Barnes and Kendell Marvel) to the lost-love requiem “Santa Fe”
(Larry Bastian and Bo Allen), often with sweet additional harmonies from Joy Sampson,
they paint a picture that’s rooted in memory yet as immediate as today.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

CD IN YOUR STEREO
RUSSELL:
“Chris Young … Neon.” GRAHAM: “I don’t know. It’s broke!”

SONG YOU SING IN THE SHOWER
RUSSELL: “Lucky Ned Pepper songs!”

BOOK ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND
GRAHAM: “The Bible and Keith
Richards’ autobiography, Life. Now, there are two extremes!”

MUSICAL HERO
GRAHAM: “Well, it sounds pretty cliché
right now, but my first concert ever was George Strait, and I was hooked every
since. It made me sick hearing that he’ll be done touring in 2014 … such an
inspiration.” RUSSELL: “Garth Brooks.”

PET PEEVE
GRAHAM:
“Anything anyone does before 7 AM.” RUSSELL: “Lying.”

ACTOR TO PORTRAY YOU IN A BIOPIC
GRAHAM: “Johnny Depp. OK, he doesn’t look anything like me, but how
frickin’ cool would that be?!” RUSSELL: “Kurt Russell, because I’m related to him … not really!”

FAVORITE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION
GRAHAM: “I love to fly.” RUSSELL: “My pickup truck.”

LUCKY CHARM
RUSSELL: “My Oklahoma Sooners money clip.”
GRAHAM: “I don’t believe in luck. God seems to have everything good taken care of already.”

SOMETHING WE’D NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU
RUSSELL: “I can
break dance.” GRAHAM: “Guess.”

On the Web: LuckyNedPepper.com

On Twitter: @LuckyNedPepper

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