Who Are The Merles?
The Merles are an original, classic country band based out of Austin, TX featuring Todd Deatherage, Mike Simms, Phil Spencer, and Matt Winegardner. The group strives to create an old school, traditional sound that echoes the memories of yesterday’s country. With catchy choruses and danceable tunes, their influences include Bob Wills, Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, George Strait, and their namesake, Merle Haggard.
In 2008, former Dallasite and singer/songwriter Todd Deatherage moved to Austin looking to form a band that played his favorite traditional country songs. In search of a lead guitarist, Todd collaborated with his co-worker at the Allegro School of Music, Derek Tarnow. Together they performed at local watering holes, eventually adding Matt Winegardner on drums, Phil Spencer on bass, and Derek’s wife, Loren, on backing vocals. Mike Simms eventually joined in 2016 rounding out their sound with his pedal steel. Due to a hectic playing schedule, the Tarnows departed the band in 2017.
Their debut record, Hate To Say Goodbye (2017), was recorded and engineered by Britton Beisenhertz at Ramble Creek Studios in Austin, TX. The album was produced by Britton Beisenhertz and The Merles, and contains 14 original songs about heartache, love lost, honky-tonks, and well, drinking. Guest artists include Basil McJagger (The Derailers), Geoff Queen (Hayes Carll), Eddie Dickerson (Curtis Grimes), and Michael St. Clair (Polyphonic Spree).
The Merles have garnered a following by playing honky-tonks and bars around the Texas area- often clocking in over 120 shows a year. Some of the venues they frequent are Luckenbach Dancehall, Mercer Street Dancehall, White Horse Saloon, Goodnight Charlie’s, Fred’s Texas Cafe, and Adair’s Saloon. They have opened for such national artists as Dale Watson, Johnny Bush, Jason Boland, Bri Bragwell, Jason Eady, and Rosie Flores.
Their new EP, Middle of the Night (release date 9/22/2020), was recorded, mixed, and produced by Don Cento (Sarah Jaffe) at Centones. This recording was started pre-COVID and finished in the midst of the pandemic via remote and socially distant recording. It contains six songs about insomnia, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. An amazing cast of regulars also appears on this recording – Chris McElrath (James Hand) on guitar, Ileana Nina (Drew Fish) on fiddle, Sarah Ulloa (Rent Party) on backing vocals, and bassist Justin Filor on soaring high harmonies.
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