When speaking of North Texas country music collective Chapter 11, we're not using the term "collective" lightly. The project, dreamed-up by Sherman-based producer and engineer Dustin Hendricks, who's worked with such greats as Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and even metal giants Hellyeah, isn't a traditional band by any means. It's a genuinely collaborative musical project by several talented folks that simply wanted to finally work together. In fact, Hendricks admits that a short-coming of his own led to the project's beginning.
"I've written several songs in the past," says Hendricks on his way back from a radio-promotion visit in Corpus Christi. "I never put much more into them due to the fact that my voice sounds like nails on a chalk board."
After writing some tunes based on his own past experiences with family - his Mother and Grandmother, to be specific -- Hendricks wanted to start putting voices and music to tape in 2012, so he looked up Sean Franks, a local singer he knew. Even with bringing in a vocalist, Hendricks had little aspiration beyond creating something for his friends and family to enjoy. But once he started to talk about it with area friends and musicians, enlisting more help than he could've wished for, the undertaking morphed into something bigger that deserved more attention than a few MP3s hidden away on his own hard-drive would elicit.
"This was only supposed to be a little acoustic project, but I soon found myself in the studio laying down drums and bass," Hendricks says. "I got my long-time friend Brian Dodson to play my rhythm guitar parts and assist me on the production side. I had recently become friends with an amazing guitar player named Mark Lafon and an equally talented piano player, named Kyle Wade Smith. They graciously agreed to share their talent on my record. At that point, we had our band!"
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Chapter 11's songs are sturdy, enjoyable country tunes with an electric-rock edge prominently featured on most of them. The album resulting from this gathering of the vibes, called The Awakening, will be available in a couple of weeks. But the rustic, acoustic tune that's starting to make its way up the regional radio charts is the song that will make people look deeper into the group once they've recovered from the wallop that "Whiskey and You" packs.
It starts with simple acoustic picking and Franks' weary voice singing "There's a bottle." Sure, that might begin to describe any number of country tunes, but in this case, this track burrows a much deeper, heartbreaking hole than your average Top 40-fare does. "Whiskey and You" is absolutely everything a killer country tear-jerker should be. Over the course of almost four minutes, the self-inflected pain of a man and a woman are laid bare in a beautifully sparse, authentic fashion. Listen to it without your guts being ripped apart, and you likely aren't in possession of a pulse.