Songwriters collaborate for festival
Carson City singer Beans Sousa is sitting in with The Slade Rivers Band at the Genoa Cowboy Festival May 3 through 5
Amador County, Calif., resident Slade Rivers and his band are a honky-tonk hillbilly swing band that plays original tunes, plus a mixture of the old school tunes such as Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzel, Ernest Tubb and Merle Haggard songs.
The son of a Navy dad, Slade spent his early years growing up in southeastern Texas taking guitar lessons and learning every song Hank Williams ever wrote. When his family moved back to the West Coast Slade played in several garage bands until schooling called him to northern California and Humboldt State University.
“Humboldt County is where I really started to get serious about writing country songs instead of learning other folks’ tunes,” Rivers says. “Traveling for years up and down Highway 101 to and from school and my folks’ home I was destined to write one of our most requested original road songs called ‘Humboldt County Rain,’” he said.
Other songs include “101 You’re a Friend of Mine, I Haven’t Seen You In a While,” “Do You Still Remember Me, I Remember Every Mile,” and “The Truck Stops, Highway Songs, the Verses and Refrains.”
With several CDs to his credit, Rivers performs shows with band members Allen Frank ( aka Tex Pickens ) on dobro and Steve Doss (aka WC Slim) on upright bass.
Sousa is the former 20-year sidekick and guitarist of country star Lacy J. Dalton. Sousa is the producer and co-songwriter of Dalton’s popular “Wild Horse Crossing” CD on the Shop Record label, an independent Internet record company where he oversees the sales for independent artists including David John and The Comstock Cowboys, Richard Elloyan, Merle Haggard’s guitarist and songwriter buddy Freddy Powers, and now The Slade Rivers Band.
Both Rivers and Sousa brag that they met each other in an very unusual way.
“Beans and I ran into each other in the summer of 2010 in the middle of the night on the Carson River just upstream from Markleeville. My wife and I were camped a short ways from Beans’ camp when I heard what sounded like a slew of old cowboys singing and playing guitar around a campfire. Being the nosy sort that I am, I wandered down there in the pitch dark and asked the group of men if I could go get my guitar and sit in with them. It was Beans who took the ball, and in a somewhat facetious voice said ‘Sure, if you know any Merle Haggard songs,’” Rivers said. “His buddies kinda laughed at that, and on the walk back to get my guitar I wondered why. Later that night Beans explained to me that he sometimes uses the Haggard comment as a diversion for those other than accomplished musicians that want to sit in with us and play anything other than country songs. It’s meant as a chance for them to reconsider and just sit and listen to the music.
“Beans said to me, ‘Slade Rivers, my friend, you have passed the test by 200 percent. Out here on the Carson River Trail, you never know who you’re going to run into.’ We have been great friends and song collaborators ever since. When Sousa invited me to sing a duet with him on his latest CD, ‘Welcome Back To Markleeville’, our friendship was documented. I now invite Beans over to our neck of the woods to sit in with the band such as he will be doing with us at The Genoa Cowboy Festival. We talk several times a week on the phone about writing our next tune. The real interesting part of how we write is that we do this by sending audio or music files over the Internet. Having our own personal home recording studios, mine in Pioneer, Calif., and Beans’ in Carson City, we are able not only to collaborate with the lyrics over the Internet, but also the instrumentation and music arrangement without having to make the two-hour trip over the Sierra to the Sacramento Valley or Carson Valley, depending on whose turn it is to drive. Beans never forgets to remind me that he considers our meeting up on the river a blessing from above, and that we have an obligation to document our songwriting by recording them and seeing our endeavor through with a CD by years end.”
For more information, visit http://www.genoacowboyfestival.org.