From The Desk
Deko President Bruce Pucciarello writes to you about what is going on at Deko…
If you believe in the power of kismet, then you believe that stuff happens in life where you have to say, “It was meant to be.” So here is a story about kismet, Elizabeth, Deko Entertainment, me...oh, and Kyle too. In a conversation with my grand-daughter Elizabeth and her boyfriend Kyle, they mentioned to me that they would love to see Deko sign country artists. While we have an amazing array of artists--metal, classic rock, jazz, and progressive--for whatever reason, we did not have a real country artist.
Elizabeth and Kyle are massive country fans, attending shows and festivals whenever their busy college schedules allow. They are also a hopeful demographic: bright, energetic, young people who love music. I was all in on expanding into the genre.
The next morning, I mentioned to Charlie that we should keep our eyes open for a special artist in the country music category--an artist that was formidable and ready to take off not just because we thought so, but because the artist had ears up everywhere. We wanted an artist that was wise enough to see Deko as a great partner, regardless of being the first in a new category.
Charlie explained that the amazing country artist Southpaw had reached out the day before. I listened to two songs from their self-released album Unhitched. Kismet.
Southpaw will knock the holes out of your socks. Vocalist Christine Radlmann, winner of the 2022 Josie Award for Female Country Vocalist of the Year, partners with multi-instrumentalists Colin McConnell and Sean Garnhart, and the result is a pure country powerhouse. With Deko’s label release of their debut album, Unhitched, coming on May 12, 2023, I wanted to ask Christine some questions I had as a fan and as a representative of Southpaw fans and all the new ones they are about to get from the Deko Entertainment/Warner Brothers distribution network.
I remember one of our first conversations and what stuck out to me was the way your spirit seemed to lift when you told me music, singing--this is what you do. This is who you are. I’m paraphrasing what you said, but it made me stop and think about music as a career and those of us whose souls are somehow dynamically connected to it. I’m hoping you remember that part of the conversation, and if you do, can you go a little further and tell us some of sacrifices artists like yourself have to make to maintain that dedication to craft?
"In what I call my “past life” I was a book editor, and I would perform gigs on the side as a hobby. Between the soul crushing commute and the long hours and high-level stress, my day job didn’t fulfill me. It did provide security, a good salary and benefits, and those are the things I decided to sacrifice when diving full time into music, which carries a lot of unknowns with it. But I’m a firm believer that humans need to feel “butterflies” on a regular basis to be content and even healthy. Nothing gives me butterflies like performing onstage or crafting that perfect song—I feel so alive, and that is worth almost any sacrifice. At this point I can’t NOT do it, because once you get a taste of what truly makes you feel alive, you can’t think of doing anything else. "
There is no doubt in my mind that when people hear you and listen to the stories within the lyrics you sing, they will love every bit of it. I love the “Within You” video because it feels touchable and relatable.
With a follow up record to Unhitched in production, you tease us with the single “Your Name”
I love this song…it defines love, how love can end, and the work-around to a broken heart, cold turkey…forget them. Pretend they don’t exist. Anyway, can we do a video of this song? Please?
"We did do a performance video of “Your Name,” which is on YouTube. Hopefully we will get around to making a proper video for it. That song means so much to me because it came from a very dark period in my life, and turning something that scarred me into a beautiful song that touches people is an amazing transformation."
Tell us a little about the album you have in production. How far along are you guys? How is this material different from Unhitched? Is there anything about this new record you want to tease us with?
"We are pretty far along in production, and we keep surprising ourselves with how much we love every song on the album. After we dropped “Your Name,” I was a bit worried we’d never craft anything that good again, because to me that is a perfect song. I’m happy to report, we’ve done it, and we can’t wait to share this album! Some of the songs on this album have more of a Nashville feel than our last album, but we’ve stayed true to our roots as an East Coast Country band with influences of rock and blues in the music."
You have some talented musical partners in Southpaw. You guys have been together, I think, since 2018, so I’m guessing it was like ready, set, COVID!!!!!! A lot of musical partnerships couldn’t withstand the challenge, but you did. The great music you make together is an obvious reason, but sometimes it takes more than that. What is the Southpaw glue? The thing that keeps you all together.
"COVID surprisingly had a positive effect on Southpaw. Yes, it was challenging to record during a pandemic (we had to do a lot of things separately, take precautions while filming the “Within You” video, and I can’t count how many demos I recorded in my closet). But it gave us the luxury of TIME. None of us were commuting to day jobs during much of COVID, so we had extra hours to devote to songwriting and recording. And for the glue—it’s a combination of several things. First, we’re all intrinsically motivated and very committed to excellence. Second, we have a great set of naturally complementary skill sets between the three of us. And most important, we just enjoy what we’re doing together and try not to let any of the usual band drama kick in. People are always surprised to see how “normal” we are!"
Well, I’m not so sure when you listen to Southpaw you will consider their music normal. Trust me, it exceeds normal on many levels. It is insanely honest, country good, with a little bit of Jersey kick in the ass…just like Christine’s answers to my questions…fearless and delicate at the same time.
Elizabeth and Kyle have already given me four thumbs way up when I let them preview Southpaw. On May 12, 2023, you get an official chance to enjoy Unhitched. Another record is right behind it. Get on this train before it leaves the station. It won’t be stopping for quite a while!
What questions would you like to ask Southpaw? Please send questions to me at email@example.com.
There is a lot of other stuff coming up at Deko so keep an eye out for my next “From the Desk”.
Bruce Pucciarello - President