“I wasn’t born in the Blue Ridge Mountains/I’m from Valley Stream/We never hoe-downed ’til the sun came up/We played stick ball in the street” sings Dennis DelGaudio, lead vocalist of Brooklyn-based “CityCountry” band Shotgun Wedding, in the title track of their new album, South Of Somwehere. “We’re not from the South, but we’re all from south of somewhere. Quite frankly, Andy has us all beat, he’s from southern Australia!” he exclaims, referring to the band’s bassist, Andy Cichon. “You don’t have to be from the South to appreciate ‘Southern’ music.”
In fact, there is a large Americana and alt-country music scene in Brooklyn, where the band was founded. “I read an article recently that said that the New York City metro area, per capita, is the number one country music-buying area in the United States. There’s always been a love of country here, it’s just becoming noticed now.” says DelGaudio. “Obviously, I’m not from New York,” adds Cichon in his lovely Australian accent. “It’s the melting pot, people move here from everywhere to work, and they bring their music with them. We find New York to be incredibly soulful; we don’t have a lot of wide open spaces, but it’s about living every moment, getting outside, getting into the street and soaking up the marrow of the city. We’re engrossed in life, and we want to talk about it. That’s what Americana and classic country are about, telling stories. We can’t pretend to know experiences of wide open spaces and pickup trucks necessarily, but the stories we tell are just as sincere.” It’s that same philosophy that shines brightly in tracks like “Footsteps Away”, which examines the fact that a big city-dweller’s world is just footsteps away from his or her front door, or “City Boy”, which features DelGaudio emulating banjo rolls on his guitar. “Something that’s really unique about this band is that country music is very string instrument-driven, but we are equally driven by piano and guitar, it’s a bit of a twist,” he explains.
The members of the five-piece Shotgun Wedding, DelGaudio, Cichon, Catherine Porter (vocals), Wade Preston (keys, vocals), and Chuck Borgi (drums), are successful musicians in their individual capacities who have performed on Broadway and in West End musicals, sung backup for the likes of Queen and Chaka Khan, and toured with icons like Shania Twain and Billy Joel. So why in the world did they decide to make a band? “That was my fault,” laughs DelGaudio. “I’ve known these guys for many years; I was doing work with another writer, doing a lot of pop music writing and synthesizer button-pushing, and I thought it would be fun to get my friends in a room and play. When I listened back, I could hear the human interaction in it, and the realness, and said ‘I want to do that’ and I wanted it to be country music. They were game, so we started doing a bunch of iPhone recordings. We went from a trio to a quintet in a couple of days!”
Their throwback style falls on the preservationist side of the Americana and country spectrum; “We don’t have anything against modern country music—we’re all a bunch rock n’ rollers, and today’s country reminds me of 80s rock n’ roll, like classic rock with a twang. We’ve always been drawn to Merle Haggard, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, all the classics. The stories they told back then seem more genuine, and more varied, too,” explains DelGaudio. “I can’t listen to another song about blue jeans, beer, and bros.” “What we bring is going to be different, like Dennis said, we’re rock n’ rollers, we didn’t grow up strumming telecasters and upright basses,” explains Cichon. “We couldn’t pretend to be complete purists, but we can pay homage while bringing our own twist to it.”