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Cultural Shorts

Read Southall Band prepares to bring Oklahoma to the world with 'For The Birds'

Read Southall Band Press Photo.jpeg (photo credit_ Jonathan Burkhart).jpeg
Jonathan Burkhart
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Oklahoma's Read Southall Band releases its latest album, For The Birds, on Oct. 22.

According to vocalist/bandleader Read Southall, the group took the opportunity to refine the material and concentrate on delivering its best work to date during time off the road in 2020.

The result is a record that touches on the group's Oklahoma roots with tinges of outlaw country, beer hall boogie, and hard-rocking numbers that wouldn't feel out of place on albums from Soundgarden or Led Zeppelin.

If some of those elements seem incongruous on the page, they are remarkably cohesive on the group's third studio album, which taps into the outfit's live appeal and ability to move easily between one genre and another.

Read Southall Band performs at the Cotillion Ballroom on Saturday, Oct. 9, with openers Mountain Deer Revival.

Southall recently spoke with KMUW about the record and Oklahoma's rich musical history.

Interview Highlights

There's a real confidence to the material and performances on For The Birds. I wonder what you attribute that to.

It's the first time I think we've kind of had the confidence going into the studio; this is to show you what we've been working on and how we've progressed as a band. We always had really good luck at kind of shocking the fans and making them realize that there's a whole other rock and roll aspect that we haven't really had a chance to show on the studio recordings. That's what we're so excited about, to let this music represent us and catch everybody up to speed on what we've been doing rather than living in the past and trying to fit a mold that everybody's created for [our music].

One of the things that I really love about this record is I feel like I know the band after I listen to it, like I know your sense of humor.

Oh good, that makes me happy. You know, there's a lot of … country songs like "Here We Are (There We Went)," for instance. That was one [where] I decided, "Man, I want to write just a fun country, laid back here we are/there we went song." I fought Taylor [Kimball], our producer, about putting it on there. Kind of not wanting to show that sense of humor. That relieves me. It's relieving to hear that, that it was a good thing. You know, it's easier for someone else to make the joke, but when I make the joke it feels like it's not as good.

One thing about Oklahoma is that it has produced so many great musicians over the years and in recent times especially there's just been this kind of high quality of bands and solo artists to come out of the state. What do you what do you think it is about Oklahoma that produces such great musicians?

I don't know. You know, I try to think about that all the time. When I was young, I was always, "Why me? You know I'm in Oklahoma, and why the hell is it here? Why are we here? Why did my family stay here?" You can't wait to get out of here. "I can't wait to get out of Oklahoma. It's flat and boring. And the wind is always blowing, and I'm ready to go somewhere cool."

Then get to New York. And it's cool. And there's a lot of people and big buildings but nobody cares. Nobody cares if they're in your way; nobody cares, or they do if you're in their way they care. It's a whole different mindset. [Here], it feels like everybody's just trying to get along and make their neighbor's day a little bit easier feels. It feels that way here. It feels like that as far as producers and musicians, writers. I mean just anybody that has anything to do with the music scene within Oklahoma, just arms wide open.