Artist Discovery:
Sons of Fathers

In the spirit of helping you discover the range of talented musicians on the 2013 lineup, we’ve enlisted local writer, Arden Ward to tell the stories behind some of the most buzzworthy musicians on the 2013 lineup. You’ve already learned more about Austin’s Shakey Graves and Nashville’s Luella and the Sun, and this week we’re bringing you the story of yet another Texas standout – Sons of Fathers.

By Arden Ward

The story of Sons of Fathers reads like any good songwriters’ should. Built on a legacy of music and misdeeds, the band draws quite literally on the generations that came before, finding inspiration in family members and the music of bygone legends alike.

Raised in Texas, Frontmen David Beck and Paul Cauthen share storytelling roots fueled by divergent upbringings. Beck is the son of Bill Whitbeck, the longtime touring bass player for songwriter Robert Earl Keen; Cauthen hails from the small town of Tyler, the grandson of a preacher who he calls “one hell of a musician.” While Beck’s childhood dealt in tour buses and recording studios, Cauthen grew up singing in the church choir before spending time in reform school and turning 20 on a Texas chain gang.

As Sons of Fathers, Beck and Cauthen (along with the rest of the band), meld musical pasts and songwriting prowess into an approachable folk sound driven by indie, rock and country nuances. The band’s self-titled debut album — released in 2011 to critical praise — captures the modern folk rock movement with simple country instrumentation, a hint of the blues and plenty of Texas sensibility.

Sons of Fathers’ sophomore release — 2013’s Burning Days — blends the band’s rustic roots with newfound musical maturity and wider influences. Producer Lloyd Maines describes the sound as “The Everly Brothers meets Neil Young and Merle Haggard and The Clash.” Standouts include “Feel The Fall,” an easy-listening groove with simple licks and tight harmonies, and “Not This Time,” which will quickly wrap you up in its melodic simplicity.

After one listen, it’s no surprise that the first single from Burning Days is “Roots and Vine,” an approachable tune fit for the radio dial. Written in the indie-roots tradition, the band layers on outlaw hooks and a driving beat for a song that appeals to rock enthusiasts and country purists alike. (The music video features Sons of Fathers on the stage of East Austin’s White Horse, a honky tonk that aptly caters to a crowd as diverse as Sons of Fathers’ music.)

In October, Sons of Fathers will return from the road to kick off the second weekend of ACL Fest on Friday, October 11. “It’s an honor to play ACL,” Cauthen says.

“It was five years ago when I had my first [ACL Fest] experience. I told myself, ‘One day I will play here.’ Finally our time has come.”

With such a timeless approach to folk rock, it’s easy to understand why the band defines “music with roots” with such variety. Everything from the piano-heavy rock of Leon Russell’s “Tight Rope” to Son Volt’s raw “Tear Stained Eye” and Johnny Cash’s sullen “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” provides inspiration for Sons of Fathers. After all, says the band, “roots music has no age limit.” Before the band’s debut, listen to Sons of Fathers’ easy-going “Music with Roots” playlist and get better acquainted with these Texans who are creating a new sound rooted in generations of musical tradition.

Music With Roots

1. Levon Helm – “The Mountain”
Levon delivers a beautiful story of the hardworking man. Life and death on the mountain that the man took out from under him and his family.

2. Rolling Stones – “Honky Tonk Woman”
Singing about women to get women is as rootsy as it gets.

3. Johnny Cash – “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”
Johnny Cash, one of the golden diplomats of modern song. He’s on this list because he has to be.

4. Robert Earl Keen – “Gringo Honeymoon”
Our band has deep roots in the music of Robert Earl Keen. Their performance on No. 2 Live Dinner is the base for the rest of the Texas music since.

5. Leon Russell – “Tight Rope”
As a band we’ve listened to this song a million times in the last year. As cool as it gets, Leon stares right at your soul.

6. Willie Nelson – “The Last Thing I Needed the First Thing This Morning”
Everyone has felt Willie’s grief one time or another.

7. Everly Brothers – “Cathy’s Clown”
The Everly Brothers are a group we take a lot of inspiration from. Great musical ideas, great harmonies. Good God, can they sing.

8. Chet Atkins – “Jam Man”
From the latter part of Chet’s career and he was still pickin’ solid. Roots music has no age limit.

9. Son Volt – “Tear Stained Eye”
Nothing greater than the experience you gain as time passes. Music with roots most of the time has one foot planted in tradition.

10. Tom Waits – “Ol’ 55”
This is the song we play every time we return to Austin from being out on the road. The road is a mythical place.