It goes to show the magic of music is the ability to touch and reach everyone, and geography don’t mean a thing. In the land of the crocodiles, amongst the miles and miles of outback, comes the sound of an Australian country band that you’d swear was straight out of Texas. Chuck’s Wagon, headed by front man and songwriter Chuck Stokes, has turned out a great new album, Lipstick and Sin, with heavy roots country rock rhythms providing a great foundation for Stokes’ smooth baritone.
“We’ve definitely been influenced by Texas,” says Stokes. “Recently, I would have to say a collection of Texas musicians, Randy Rogers and Jack Ingram, they just keep impressing me as songwriters, each album just getting better and better, Charlie and Bruce Robison always blow my mind how wonderful their lonesome imagery can be. Cory Morrow is just uplifting.”
Stokes goes on to talk about other American influences, “And then there’s Hank III, who blows the roof off everything. My hero would be Steve Earle. His longevity, and his integrity to keep writing from where he currently stands make me want to be a better writer. My spiritual Godfather would be Townes Van Zant. When I’m feeling down and out, thinking I got nothing and am nothing and just want to throw it all in, I listen to Townes, and keep walking. Then there’s Justin Townes Earle, who lets me know there is young people writing great music, gives you something to look forward to.”
He goes on as well about the Man in Black, with whom there are moments when Stokes’ voice carries a similar resonance. “How can I not then mention Johnny Cash, he simply is the greatest pumping blood filled heart full of blinding light and love, and Rick Rubin deserves a noble peace prize for giving him a recording deal in the Golden years of his life and therefore creating some of the best music of his career.”
Although you can hear all of these influences, Stokes’ distinct and almost mournful inflections in his voice along with his own brand of imagery make for a truly unique sound.
Stokes’ dedication and passion for his music shines on the new album, Lipstick and Sin, which includes fourteen of his originals. Stories of the road, lost love, the underlying spirit of survival and determination, and yes, the love of the Lonestar state – as in the opening track, San Antone , and the end track, Texas. Their new single “Last Man Standing” is one of the standouts, along with “My Creation”, which really reveals Stokes’ depth as a songwriter.
Chuck’s Wagon toured the US for the first time, in 2009 and have plans to return again. With all of the changes happening in the industry it takes real dedication to break into the US market. “I still do it because I couldn’t not do it, says Stokes. “I understand life by listening to songs, and writing, always have.”
Let’s hope the wagon rolls our way again, soon.
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