For the last five years, Josey Records in Farmers Branch has steadily expanded from a spot for intensive crate-digging into a one-stop shop for music, books, DVDs, T-shirts, novelties and even beer-related glassware. There are now Josey Records locations in Tulsa, Kansas City and a Josey Books and Records in Lubbock. Expanding one’s brand is something Josey co-owner Luke Sardello knows a thing or two about.
On Friday, Nov. 15, Sardello’s latest venture, Eastwood Records, officially entered the marketplace with the release of the debut single from Dallas group Bastards of Soul. It seems like a natural extension for a record store owner to own a small record label, but this new vinyl-centric label has been something Sardello and co-owner, noted sports radio personality Jeff “Skin” Wade, have been thinking about since long before Josey opened its doors.
A timely combination of right time, right band and right partner can do wonders, it seems.
“The idea of the label has been 20 years in the making since Skin and I DJ'ed together at Moosh in the late ’90s and early 2000s,” Sardello says. “We've always had similar tastes in music that focused heavily on soul, jazz and reggae, and when we saw the infectious live shows that Bastards of Soul were developing, we saw it as a natural fit with the label. There's also a burgeoning soul scene in the U.K., Europe and Japan, and vinyl is an important element to developing Bastards of Soul as an artist in that scene.”
In past years, Josey Records has issued vinyl compilations to accompany its Record Store Day celebrations and other big store events, but the new label is a separate entity entirely. The first release is a 7-inch single featuring the groove-intensive, soulfully rich “That’s the Way It Should Be” on one side and the impossibly smooth yet aching “The Waiting Time” on the other. The single serves as precursor to the soul outfit’s full-length LP, Spinnin’, which will be released by Eastwood in February 2020.
Consisting of an all-star cast of veteran Dallas musicians, the band has won a favorable reputation for its dynamite live shows since beginning in 2016. After focusing primarily on classic rhythm and blues and soul covers, musicians Chris Holt, Danny Balis, Chad Stockslager, Matt Trimble and singer Chadwick Murray appear ready for their own words and notes to take hold of the audiences who have faithfully followed them.
“As a band, we never considered recording covers,” explains Balis, the group’s bass player. “Our goal all along was to absorb this type of music, learn a vast array of cover material, and cut our teeth rehearsing and performing these songs to execute them properly. To give them appropriate treatment and not modernize them or approach them from a neo-soul perspective. We wanted to come off as authentic above all else.”
As Balis says, every bit of the project oozes with the authenticity. An owner of a successful record shop, a popular local media personality with a respected musical foundation and perhaps the tightest band of musicians playing in town right now all coming together is a can’t-miss equation. But it's only that way because of the work each of the principals is putting in to become worthy of such a status. For the band, to become fully authentic, it had to discover its own path, rather than simply follow the well-tread trails of the soul greats before them.
“Go to class, pay our dues, learn the styles and forms, absorb as much as possible,” Balis says of the growth plan that Bastards of Soul have followed over the last few years. “Then take that knowledge and feel into our existing songwriting. In the beginning, we were labeled as a cover band or ‘soul revue’ and I get that perception. What people didn't know, what they were seeing was a band going to soul school with a dope all-original LP to present at the graduation ceremony. I'm hoping we passed the course.”
As much as it seems all-too-sensible that a former DJ turned record store owner might start his own label, it’s even more understandable to find the record label will aim to highlight the physical experience of listening to records.
“While all releases will be available on all streaming platforms, Eastwood will be a vinyl-centric label, and you can expect to see all of our releases on vinyl,” Sardello says. "It's an important element to developing an artist with fans wanting to see and feel what they're listening to, what the band looks like, who was involved in producing the album, reading the liner notes, etc. … It's the best way for an artist to deliver their full vision and obviously is paramount to what we do at Josey Records.”
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