You can’t mention the Loudermilks – the Charlotte-based country-rock outfit co-fronted by brothers Alan and Chad Edwards – without bringing up Lou Ford.
In the late ’90s, with music fans turning to old-school country and American roots music, Charlotte’s Lou Ford seemed destined to make it. That big break never came.
This weekend, the Edwardses (along with Jolene’s Mike Kenerley and Lou Ford’s Shawn Lynch and Jason Atkins) get a second shot with the self-titled debut by their new band the Loudermilks. The release party is Saturday at Snug Harbor.
“Deciding to bury Lou Ford, for good, was a pretty big decision for both of us,” says Alan Edwards, who is almost five years older than Chad. “Some of the best times of my life were spent with that band. But after 15 years or so, there was also a lot of baggage. Kind of like putting down Old Yeller – it just had to be done. Even though it’s still Chad and I writing the songs and four-fifths of the band were in Lou Ford, it feels like a new start.”
Whatever they’re calling themselves, their fan base is hungry. The Loudermilks raised almost $3,500 via Kickstarter, with another fan chipping in the cost of mastering.
Along with the remaining band members and the first three letters of the band’s name, there are certainly reminders of the past on the album. Fans that followed Lou Ford and Chad Edwards’ former band Hard Times Family will recognize many songs.
But while previous records featured Alan Edwards heavily, here the brothers are on equal footing as singers and songwriters.
“I’ve definitely got a lot more ownership of this record than the Lou Ford stuff on a number of levels,” says Chad Edwards, who welcomed a baby boy exactly a month before the release show. “I think Alan probably feels the same way, since he purchased the gear, taught himself to use Pro Tools and recorded the whole thing. His songs were definitely at the forefront in Lou Ford, and I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about that for a long time. So I’m pretty proud of having put in the work to get my songwriting to a place where it holds up next to the killer tunes he brings to the table. Those records weren’t short on my songs for any other reason than that I had some growing to do as a musician and a songwriter.”
Says Alan Edwards: “I’ve always been Chad’s biggest fan. I know and love every song he’s ever written. It’s been amazing to watch him get better and better.”
For anyone who saw Lou Ford at its worst – heavily inebriated or belligerent on stage – such love and mature camaraderie may come as a surprise. But the hatchets that came with the dissatisfaction and frustration over not making it despite showers of accolades were buried a long time ago.
“We waited around for a long time for somebody to make it happen for us,” says Chad Edwards. “This record represents us taking responsibility for making things happen for ourselves.”
Despite new complications like families and day jobs, the Edwardses are making it work.
“We made a decision a long time ago that we love making music, playing live and making records,” Alan Edwards says, “and we have little control over the rest of it, so I try to keep the expectations to a minimum. With that said, we are releasing this record on our own label and working with radio promotion and our booking agent on a regional tour beginning in June in support of the national release of the record.
“We’ve definitely squandered our share of opportunities in the past, and hope to make the best of what I think is our best record.”