Two Tons of Steel
Courtesy of www.twotons.com.
Texas band Two Tons of Steel might be described as equal parts Elvis Presley and Elvis Costello, with a liberal dose of Buddy Holly and a dollop of The Ramones. It’s a one-of-a-kind sound that bandleader and frontman Kevin Geil likes to call “countrybilly.”
It’s also a sound that’s boosted the group to renown as the face of Texas music: with its live performance at historical Gruene Hall; of Two Tons of Steel in the internationally released IMAX film “Texas: The Big Picture”; its performance of King of a One Horse Town in the roots-country documentary that screens continuously at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame; its swing tune as part of Lone Star beer’s ongoing regional radio campaign; and by becoming Texas music ambassadors to ecstatic fans in Cuba and at sold-out shows throughout Europe.
Two Tons of Steel continues as an institution at Texas’ famed Gruene Hall, where its annual Two Ton Tuesdays summer series draws 12,000 fans, and as a popular act at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. For eight years, it’s been voted Best Country Band by the San Antonio Current, its hometown weekly.
Called Dead Crickets until 1996, the name change refers to Geil’s restored ’56 hardtop Cadillac.
Now, with Vegas, its eighth album and Palo Duro Records debut, it has found itself on a supportive record label that showcases the band’s steel-driven sound. Lead singer Geil handles acoustic guitar, Dennis Fallon plays electric guitar, Ric Ramirez plucks the upright bass, Chris Dodds provides drums and percussion, and Texas Steel Guitar Hall of Famer Denny Mathis adds more steel muscle. Ramirez and Dodds also sing backup. The band’s name may have come from a car, but Geil unabashedly admits his songwriting inspiration comes from his wife, Elena. The title tune for Vegas was written for her, Geil says, “because she loves to drive and loves Vegas.”
A cut on the Lloyd Maines-produced disc is the band’s signature tune, Havana Moon, a song Geil describes as “kinda dreamy.” Written during the band’s 1997 trip to Cuba, it’s the only ballad on Vegas, which Geil characterizes as “more rockin’ and a bit more raw, more of what we are live.”
Two Tons’ rockabilly-style cover of The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated,” which it started playing in 1998 and just as quickly became a fan favorite, is also on the new album. “A lot of guys think that they have to write everything. I take my hat off to them when they do,” says Geil. “But I think it’s great to find old songs and play them. People dig it.” In June, Palo Duro Records recorded Two Tons Tuesdays 2 for CD and DVD release to commemorate the band’s 10th annual summer music series at Gruene Hall.
From the dance halls in Texas to the National Theatre in Havana, Cuba, to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, and featured in video documentaries at both the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville and in Imax Theaters world-wide, Two Tons of Steel knows that good music is what fans want to hear…and that's exactly what Two Tons delivers. Live on stage, in the recording studio and on the big screen, Two Tons of Steel has combined the unique sounds of roots rock and country creating music with a passionate punch!
2005 started with a European road trip and only gets better from there. Two Tons opened the year in Paris (France, not Paris,Texas) at Euro Disney, traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, before completing the European tour with performances in Barcelona, Spain. Upon arriving back in the States, Two Ton’s completed their latest studio recordings and debut album (Vegas) with Palo Duro Records for a national release . The summer marks the 10th Annual Two Ton Tuesday’s at the oldest dance hall in Texas, Gruene Hall. As Two Ton’s plays host to south Texas music fans, Gruene Hall has provided the setting of a “new” live CD and DVD.
Listening to great music, watching the best dancers at the most famous dancehall, and enjoying a cold beverage is the only way to beat that Texas summer heat!
Billboard magazine (in one of two feature articles) calls lead singer Kevin Geil a "guitar-swinging, hip-swiveling showman". Geil brings not only a great stage presence with his lead vocals and acoustic guitar; he has become a prolific songwriter to compliment an extremely talented band.
Dennis Fallon, lead guitar and vocals, uses a variety of guitars and great imagination to provide a musical energy level that is hard to match. His guitar is an extension of his personality…full of life… and one that will lead your eyes to the smile on his face when he plays his music.
Drummer Chris Dodds is an accomplished stage and studio drummer, bringing a crisp sound and adding a nice touch with percussion instrumentation to the ballads. And, be listening for some three part harmony, Chris is also an accomplished singer.
Chris Rhoades brings the full sound of the up-right bass, electric bass and harmony vocals to add the perfect compliment to an already great sound.
Adding the final touch to the Two Tons' sound is legendary steel guitar player, Denny Mathis. Denny has worked with some of the biggest names in country music, earning him an induction into the Texas Steel Guitar Players Hall of Fame. Playing his trademark four-neck steel guitar, he has never heard a song he couldn't play. Better yet, you should hear him play a song he's never heard. He's that good!
The Band’s Name…
Tracing the origin of Two Tons of Steel back to 1991, the band began by playing small clubs and private parties in San Antonio. Today, Two Tons of Steel is the proudly sponsored by Lone Star Beer, the national beer of Texas, and recently signed with Palo Duro Records. National distribution of their latest studio album, Vegas, was released in 2005. The full DVD/CD release, Two Ton Tuesdays Live!, was released in 2006.
Known originally as the San Antonio based Dead Crickets, the band changed its name to Two Tons of Steel in 1997. As the story goes, the band’s name change was prompted by a telephone call from Jerry Allison, drummer for Buddy Holly and the Crickets. As Holly's Crickets were still active on the road, Mr. Allison was concerned that the rising popularity and fan base of the Dead Crickets was quickly expanding beyond the San Antonio music market and may create confusion for the fans of the two groups. Out of respect to the legacy of Buddy Holly and his music, a gentleman's agreement was reached and the Dead Crickets would be no more. Always an important and difficult decision for any band, the groups new name would not be determined by a marketing study, but simply by looking out the window. Sitting in the driveway was a fully restored 1956 two door, hardtop Cadillac owned by lead singer Kevin Geil. This model of luxury automobile was also affectionately known in its day as Two Tons of Steel. No matter what their name, the band continues to be recognized in the San Antonio market with awards including Band of the Year (eight awards), Best Male Vocal (Kevin Geil-four awards), Guitar Player of the Year (Dennis Fallon), Album of the Year (Two Tons of Steel), and has been featured on Imus in the Morning, a nationally syndicated television program aired on CNBC.
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