Many young and talented Nashville-based artists are teetering on the edge of country, rock and soul. However, few are doing it as well as Banditos.
All from Birmingham, Ala., the group is comprised of six longtime friends: Corey Parsons, Stephen Pierce, Randy Wade, Jeffrey Salter, Danny Vines and Mary Beth Richardson. Banditos is a tightly knit group that has paid its dues and invested time in creating an exciting sound.
After moving in together and working hard on developing said sound, the group eventually decided to make the hallowed trek to Tennessee with the goal of being in a more musically involved environment. Although Parsons said the original plan was for each member to get jobs and focus on music in their spare time, the band immediately dove into writing and touring. Music became their individual and collective focus and has stayed that way ever since.
In May, the band released its first self-titled, full-length album. Banditos supplies 13 hard-hitting tracks that combine gritty Southern rock with gutsy honky-tonk riffs that call you to the dance floor. There’s a young, vibrant energy that is threaded through every single track, with obvious musical nods to some of the best “rootsy” Southern rockers from the past.
Even though there’s a definite trend of driving banjos, Banditos isn’t a musical one-trick pony. Tracks like “Preachin’ to the Choir” show the group’s depth and versatility as musicians, while “The Breeze” is a vigorous blast of garage rock infused with blues rhythms and punchy bluegrass strums. Throughout the album, each of the six members are allowed to show off their unique talents, whether it’s the funky, soulful bass grooves provided by Vines, or incredible group harmonies supplied by Parsons, Pierce and Richardson.
Parsons says the group’s influences are drawn from a wide net that includes T. Rex, ZZ Top and Slim Harpo. “Hank Williams is God to us,” Parsons admitted, and said that Townes Van Zandt is also as a huge reference point and collective favorite of the band.
Parsons also says they “never set out to be any specific type of band,” and have an “easygoing approach in all aspects of music,” even their songwriting. That mindset has worked in their favor and has resulted in a distinctly modern sound that blends the best bits of every genre into one brash and bold set of music. Banditos has managed to combine the carefree feel of a honky-tonkin’ band with such engaging energy that you can’t help but become quickly invested in its rowdy musical adventure.