Dirty Dozen: Western Centuries

Round up a country band and an early R&B group with three lead vocalists, weave in a hefty amount of vocal harmony and witty turns-of-phrase, and let ‘em rock out like The Band. The sound of roots music mavericks Western Centuries sits at these crossroads, and their debut album Weight of the World introduces the band.  Comprised of Seattle-based country musician Cahalen Morrison, jam band veteran Jim Miller (co-founder of Donna the Buffalo), R&B and bluegrass-by-way-of-punk rock songwriter Ethan Lawton, pedal steel player Rusty Blake, and bassist Dan Lowinger, Western Centuries are clearly a diverse bunch.

Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years?
Western Centuries is based in Seattle, only because the original band was formed there, two of our members live there and the tour van gets parked there. Now a’days we’ve got folks spread out around the country. We started out as a band named Country Hammer, which was the brain child of Cahalen Morrison. Recruiting some of his old buddies; Jim Miller (Donna the Buffalo) and Ethan Lawton (Zoe Muth & the Lost High Rollers) to join in the project, we quickly hit the road and began developing our sound. After a few tours under that bands belt, we began to fill out the sets with some of Ethan and Jim’s songs, sharing the lead singing and song writing duties and laying the ground work for what would become Western Centuries. In 2015 we recorded our debut album; Weight of the World and after it’s release the following year, we’ve been trying to share it with as many people as we can.

How would you describe your music?
The band started out as an homage to some of the classic country songs that we grew up listening to but the songs that we’re bringing to the table these days are getting harder and harder to categorize

Can you tell us a little bit about your influences?
Our influences vary widely, to say the least. From the oldest, crunchiest field recording to Adele (Jim loves him some Adele..) and almost everything in between. Though, to be fair, we mostly gravitate toward the old stuff.

What are you currently promoting?
We’re still touring on our 2016 release; Weight of the World (Free Dirt Records). This summer, we’re headed down to Louisiana to record a new record with a brand new batch of song. Very Excited!

Have you got a particular song you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of, one that might define you?

Not that we’d ever want to be bound or defined by one song but our title track (Weight of the World) seems to be a good place to start.

What are you currently listening to?
We all have a huge rotation of music cycling through our stereos.. When we’re on the road, lately we’ve been listening to a lot of old soul and r&b:.. Otis, Aretha, Sam Cooke.. etc Along with some classic country: Hank Locklin, Wade Ray and loads of George Jones..

And your favourite album of all time, the one you couldn’t do without?
For Jim it’s “The Band” by The Band.  Cahalen it’s “Graceland” by Paul Simon.  Ethan it’s “London Calling” by The Clash.

What are your hopes for your future career?
Our hopes for the future are merely to cultivate and maintain an audience base that will afforded us the right to keep writing, recording and performing our music with each other as long as it makes sense..

If money were no object what would be your dream project?
In this hypothetical scenario, do time machines exist?  This dream project is all we have time for at the moment.

What’s the best thing about being a musician?
Exploring creativity through friendships and adventure.. We get to express ourselves and alleviate some of the weight of this heavy world every time we write or perform a song.. All the things that people turn to religion and self-help for, we’ve got in spades.  It’s a benefit we’ve all grown to respect

And the worst?
Like any addiction or obsession, it can take it’s toll on your health and your home life. It can make “normal” life difficult

 Finally, have you anything you’d like to say to the readers of Americana UK?
Nice to meet you.

Author: Rudie Hayes

Rudie is the weekly host of the syndicated radio show – The Horseshoe Lounge Music Session – playing the best American Roots and hosting terrific live guests.

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