The Evolution of the Band

A long time ago, in a practice room not far away, we started our musical journey together. We met in a band called Blue Funk, which was a full band project. We quickly realized that the two of us shared something special--call it chemistry, call it fate, call it whatever you like. The bottom line is that we stumbled on that thing that you always hope to find. We met through music, and got to know each other through music. So feeling very fortunate to have found each other, we decided to start a project as just the two of us.  

We started this project with the idea that we’d play jazz. John would play acoustic guitar, Rebecca would sing, and we’d find gigs where we could stand quietly in the corner of a nice place and make a little money doing what we love to do. This idea didn’t last long. When we started writing together, the creative output waaaay too fiery. Plus, we weren’t jazz players. Not at all. We didn’t know and really didn’t think about the type of music we started creating, and soon after our first gig came around. That means we needed a name… so we called this first project Westbound.  

Westbound continued for a couple of years, releasing two albums (Blackjack Road and Now & Then). We started hearing from lots of folks that they couldn’t find us on the internet, because apparently there are 9,832 other bands named Westbound.  

So we paused and thought about what it was we were creating. What kind of music do we make, how do we live our lives, what’s important from a creative standpoint? All those questions led us to the name Grifters & Shills. It has the right connotation, the right feel, and it points to a time past where people had to do whatever they could to make things work.  

Grifters & Shills went on to release an EP (Trainwreck Junkyard) and a full length album (Watershed), with the full length album being produced by our very talented friend Brad Sayles. It was after the release of Watershed that the band hit another pause point. We were still using the old acoustic guitar, the same instrument that we had originally chosen so that we could stand quietly in the corner in a nice place and play a few songs. However, the artistic direction of the band was begging for something different.  

So Grifters & Shills set out on a mission. In 2016, we decided to record three albums, and they were specifically chosen to chart the path from our transition as a folk duo to where we are today. The albums were: 

2017: ‘Road to Brownwood’, an album that paid homage to our folk roots. This one still primarily featured acoustic instruments, but introduced more grit and electricity to the sound.  

2018: ‘Long Tongue Liars’, an album that paid homage to our blues roots. We put down the acoustic guitar for this one. It’s entirely electric, and sets the stage for what was to follow.  

2019: ‘Pretty Little Secrets’, a new all-original album that found us fully expressing ourselves in both instrumentation and for the very first time, as Producers of the songs we wrote.  

This brings us to the present day, and also brings us right back to where we started from. The 2019 release of ‘Pretty Little Secrets’ is a perfect companion to the 2010 release of ‘Blackjack Road’. The evolution of this band is an honest one; we followed various trails and cut our teeth exploring different styles of writing, playing, and of performing.  

In the end we’re right back where we began. The heart and soul of this band is the fire and energy born from a mutual understanding that we share, a bond between the two of us that keeps on getting stronger and yielding songs that simply refuse to stand in a corner and be quiet - or behave at all.  

We’d like to take this space to thank you for following along with us. We’ve been blogging about the new album for the last six months or so, and it means the world to us that you’d be here reading about these things that are so very important to us. For the two of us, music is inseparable from who we are. We are immensely grateful to have met so many truly wonderful people in the years we’ve been doing this. We count ourselves among the luckiest people on earth to be able to share this with you.  

Thank you friends, and we will see you soon.  


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