You wouldn’t think of the Railhead Smokehouse in Parker County as a musical hub. But that’s where twangy quintet Chance Ray & The Good Sinners was formed and got its big break.
The Sinners’ sound draws from its frontman Ray’s upbringing. He was one of six kids who grew up on a ranch in the Ozarks, where he came of age listening to and playing bluegrass. The Sinners’ songs are an edgy amalgam of Texas Music, rootsy Americana, and Ray’s native “hillbilly music,” he told me. Vintage-sounding steel guitar is draped over rocked-out chords, creating a nice canvas for Ray’s soulful, husky voice. Dobro, banjo, and mandolin round out the sound and root it somewhere between the red dirt of Texas and the swampy, swaggering gusto of the Ozarks.
Lyrically, Ray said, his subject matter comes straight from his life.
“I always say I’m not a very good liar,” Ray said. “I usually have a life experience that I go off of when writing the lyrics. Once I take [a song] to the full band, we all get to open up and add the different sounds and have our own creative process.”
The band was formed in 2015 when Ray went to Railhead to scout bassist Keven Beaird, who was playing that night. After agreeing to team up and hammering out a direction for the band, the duo later found steel pedalist Mark Belding on Craigslist. The trio then added multi-instrumentalist Jeremiah Herrin and drummer Kelly LeBlanc.
After playing around town for a while, the Sinners caught a break in fall 2016 when they landed a spot in the Ranch Factor competition, an annual battle-of-the-bands-style event hosted by 95.9-FM The Ranch at Railhead. As Ray put it, his band “won the whole darn thing.”
They were given a contract with Vision Entertainment, a California-based management and booking company, and studio time at Forth Worth Sound. Their first single, “Roll on By,” will be aired on The Ranch on Mon, Mar 5. The tune was recorded with producer Bart Rose (The Toadies, Katsuk).
Chance Ray & The Good Sinners’ next show is 7:30pm Friday at the Willow Park Railhead, the place where it all began. There is no cover.