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Sure, they’re from Texas, but when Rosehill set out to make their most recent album, Crooked Thoughts, their intentions had little to do with their Lone Star lineage. When it’s pointed out that the duo, made up of longtime friends Blake Myers and Mitch McBain, did indeed make what sounds like a mainstream country album, Blake responds, “Thank you! I’ll take that as a compliment because that’s what we were going for.”
And in Texas, that’s OK. The Red Dirt music scene is a little more all-encompassing than its mainstream country cousin. Blake recalls a show the duo recently had with past “On the Edge” act The Departed. “You have Rosehill, which is straight-ahead country music,” he says, “and [The Departed] are anything but country music. It was us and them as the bill and both our fans and their fans loved each other’s sets. The Red Dirt scene—they love a broad spectrum of music.”
Mitch and Blake’s backstory is typical of many bands. They met in high school in Cypress, Texas, and bonded over a common appreciation of Texas music mainstay Pat Green. After a one-and-a-half-year friendship, the two put together Texas High Life. But it wasn’t until they caught the attention of fellow Texan Radney Foster that Rosehill was born. “Mitch and I were on a break from Texas High Life to do a little writing and soul searching, trying to figure out what we wanted to do,” explains Blake. “We put together this five- or six-song demo and there was one particular song on there that Mitch wrote that I really liked. Somebody got that demo to Radney and he said, ‘These guys are a duo and don’t even know it.’ He called us and said, ‘Y’all come meet me in Nashville and let’s see what happens.’”
Now, two albums in, what’s happening is that Rosehill is capturing national attention with Crooked Thoughts. Blake and Mitch co-wrote most of the tunes on the album, including the sassy, bluegrass-meets-Haggard title track, but they also went outside for material. Mitch laughs. “You know how proud we are here in Texas. We get asked all the time, ‘Why did you cut other people’s songs?’ It’s simple. Just like an artist on stage does a cover song because they love it, when you hear a song that you want to sing more than something that you’ve written, then the decision is very easy,” he says. “It also provides another dimension to your record.”
A personal favorite for both of the gentlemen is the in-your-face “Playin’ for Pride,” an anthem to giving it all you’ve got, regardless of what “it” is. “I remember those days after soundcheck, sitting at the door and counting heads, trying to figure out whether or not we were going to be able to pay somebody or pay for gas,” remembers Blake.
It seems those days are gone and a clearly defined goal has become obvious. “We originally got into this for our love of country music,” says Mitch. “Our first record, everything was so new to us. I feel like this record is really our voice. It’s a combination of Blake’s and my vision of what we want to make. Especially from here on out.”