In 2021, singer-songwriters Chris Raspante and Jesse Spradlin were ready for new directions in their respective music careers, although neither was sure what that would look like.
“A friend asked if I would go help Jesse with a song she was recording” at The Cove Studios in Arlington, Raspante recalled. “I was recording or playing guitar and thought, ‘She has a really good voice.’ We got along.”
Raspante sought a creative outlet outside of tribute bands, so he pitched Spradlin the idea of starting a new, original Americana band together inspired by Lake Street Dive, The Civil Wars, and Lukas Nelson. She said yes. Minus popular duos like Danni & Kris and Genini, most Fort Worth acts are solo or trios or more.
“There are not a bunch of duos out there,” Raspante said. “That’s probably a good thing for us.”
The two spent most of 2023 building the band’s website and social media while booking gigs. The Vintage Yell’s auspicious start over the past few months has included several high-profile gigs, including at the Dallas International Guitar Festival and opening for Whiskey Myers. Raspante said he enjoys the duo concept.
“I don’t have to do the loop thing when I solo,” he said, meaning he doesn’t have to play over prerecorded tracks. “I can say, ‘Go to the chorus. I’m going to keep soloing.’ That’s something you couldn’t do as a solo act. I’ve done many three- or four-hour solo gigs. That’s work. It’s nice to not have to carry the full load all the time.”
To tease two forthcoming EPs produced by Raspante and released by Mesquite St. Records (Brenton Scott McCorkle, Brad Thompson, Pocket Theory) this spring and early fall, he and Spradlin will release a new single, “Wrong Direction,” next Friday, Jan. 26, on all major streaming platforms. The accompanying video, filmed and edited by Zach Moffatt, will premiere simultaneously via YouTube @TheVintageYell.
Raspante said his goal for the EP is to give listeners an authentic version of The Vintage Yell’s live performances. Spradlin added that good songs should speak for themselves without being over-edited.
“There shouldn’t need to be extra bells and whistles,” she continued. “Hopefully, all the songs we chose can stand on their own. When I play with [Raspante], there is a sense of effortlessness in the collaboration. I don’t have to bang my head against the wall to get him to understand what I’m trying to say. He makes me a better artist.”
For large gigs, The Vintage Yell employs a full band with bassist Austin Gardea (ALG) and drummer Scott Matthews (Junior Brown, Dale Watson, The Derailers). For the forthcoming EPs that will each feature five original tunes and a cover, Raspante and Spradlin relied on previously written songs completely rearranged to equally incorporate both musicians.
“We went over our originals to see which could be Vintage Yell songs,” Raspante said. “If it was her song, we’d add my vocals and make sure that my guitar was on it.”
With two EPs wrapped up and ready for release, Raspante and Spradlin are focused on booking gigs and possibly opening for a large touring act. The Vintage Yell will always call Fort Worth home, but the singer-songwriters created their new outfit with performing in mind, especially on the road.
“We want to play the Ridgleas, Kesslers, and Levitt Pavilions of the country,” Raspante said. “We look forward to getting on the road and playing. Our goal has always been to be a working, traveling band playing our own music.”
The Vintage Yell
9pm Sat, Feb 10, w/Simone Nicole and Timlightyear at The Cicada, 1002 S Main St, FW. $10.