Exclusive interview with the band Town & Country who will be performing live worldwide at Gosh!Radio (www.goshradio.com) June 23rd, 2012
By Robin Rowe
HOLLYWOOD, CA (Gosh!Radio) 2012/6/19 - “Country is, and always has been, rooted in storytelling,” says Town & Country singer-frontman Rob Shapiro. “That’s really the appeal of it. For example, Everybody Wants To Say I Do certainly carries a message, that people, including ones you know and love, fall in love, and, well… whaddaya gonna do? But, it doesn’t demand ‘think this’. It just tells the true stories.”
“Our message is best summed up by our anthem My Country, the idea that America is about inclusiveness, tolerance and freedom,” says Town & Country songwriter-producer Brian Woodbury. “Country music is having quite a lively conversation about what it means to be an American. We think there’s room for all kinds of voices in country music.”
Meet the Music host Gabrielle Pantera will interview Town & Country and take callers’ questions on Gosh!Radio. Watch the show live at www.goshradio.com. Viewers call in each week during the show to ask questions or give a shout out to the guests. Callers phone (559) 546 1700 in the United States: and enter code 472737. Gosh!Radio provides callers with local numbers in 15 countries that are listed on the web site. The show broadcasts worldwide on Saturday mornings at 10am Pacific time.
The music of Town & Country is Blue State country. It’s most proximate influences are, on one hand, the contemporary Nashville of Toby Keith, Brad Paisley and singer-songwriter James Taylor, and on the other hand, the progressive bluegrass of Chris Thile, Allson Kraus, Nickel Creek, Bela Fleck and Jerry Douglas. There are even hints of Steely Dan and They Might Be Giants in there as well, with Brian Wilson and Andy Partridge thrown in for fun.
Shapiro plays guitars, bass, and some piano. “Guitar in country music is obvious,” says Shapiro. “It’s the instrument of the genre.” Woodbury says he gets away with playing bass in the band because he wrote the songs. “I dabble on a lot of instruments, but shred on none. I’ve always surrounded myself with great players.”
Shapiro was born in Washington, D.C. Woodbury hails from Oakland, California, hometown of Sly Stone and Carla Bley, two of his favorite musicians, and of Tom Hanks.
Town & Country has released one album so far, the eponymous Town & Country.
Shapiro and Woodbury have put out several past CDs with bands, including Shapiro’s band Populuxe, Woodbury’s big band The Variety Orchestra and a group he had in the ’90s, The Popular Music Group.
Town & Country’s song My Country carries an overt message, but is a portrait of all the different people who make up the USA. “We’re inspired by contemporary Nashville Music Row songwriting, but we approach it from a West Coast perspective,” says Woodbury. “Musically more varied than just country, but it all has a twang.”
Town & Country formed as a band this spring. The CD was made with an assortment of rhythm sections and soloists. “We’ve put a fresh group together for our live band,” says Woodbury. “It’s a seven piece, with piano, pedal steel, fiddle, guitar/banjo/mandolin, bass, drums and Rob on guitar.”
Town & Country is available at Amazon, and for download from the band’s website, iTunes, CDBaby and other digital distributors. Town & Country shouldn’t be confused with another band called Town & Country in Chicago that plays minimalist acoustic music. “If you’re trying to find us, we’re the ones who do songs, not slow instrumentals,” says Woodbury. “The other band is pretty good too. If you like tinkly dirges or Blue State country, you can’t go wrong with Town and Country.”
Town & Country distributes through its own label.
Shapiro and Woodbury are both songwriters. “We had collaborated over the years we’ve known each other, with Rob singing on some of my TV shows and theater projects,” says Woodbury. “We hadn’t written together until we made the CD. Generally, we spin a few ideas and concepts around until we hit on a phrase that can work as a title, a chorus usually. Then we work out a rough idea of some music, sometimes separately, sometimes together, then we go our separate ways and play with what we’ve got to compare notes via email.”
“Songwriting constantly changes,” says Shapiro. “That’s the fun of the idiom. You can approach from an idea and build from there. Plus, with all the various kinds of writing each of us has done, we can bring in all kinds of different references and ideas, and accommodate them.”
Woodbury’s songs have been sung by Nathan Lane, and Lisa Loeb and Jill Sobule. He’s written songs with Van Dyke Parks. Town & Country violinist Sid Page has played with Sly Stone and Van Morrison. Town & Country multi-string player Andrew Synowiec has played with Jordin Sparks. Town & Country drummer Andy Sanesi played with Eminem. Town & Country pedal steel player Pete Freiberger played with Bonnie Raitt. Town & Country keyboard player Daniel Alexander played with the L.A. Philharmonic.
Town & Country will be performing at the Mbar in Hollywood on June 28th for an official CD release show. Sharing are two acts: Gwendolyn with her new fangled country band and Mr. Smolin.
Town & Country has played in Los Angeles from Silverlake to Hollywood to Santa Monica. “We hope to do a CD release show in New York later this year,” says Woodbury. The band recently began work on its second album.
Shapiro played with many bands in Minneapolis in the ’80s, sharing bills with The Jayhawks, Soul Asylum and Trip Shakespeare. He’s played with bands in NYC and L.A. and does session work. “Rob’s played everywhere from New York to Los Angeles to Texas to Minneapolis to Bora Bora,” says Woodbury. “I’ve mainly played in Los Angeles and New York.”
Shapiro says he looks forward some day to performing with, “Willie Nelson, he’s the voice…K.D. Lang, she’s the voice…Bela Fleck, a phenomenal player…Union Station, great players all…and Keith Richards.” Woodbury would like to perform with, “Chris Thile, he’s a modern bluegrass Charlie Parker…Allison Kraus, an angel-voiced master of bluegrass…and The Bad Plus, the coolest jazz trio in existence.”
Town & Country is a joint venture into Americana by L.A. singer-frontman Rob Shapiro and songwriter-producer Brian Woodbury. They’re joined by top flight pickers and pluckers spurred by a love for country music, coming slightly out of left field. “We can love Kentucky and also love California,” says Woodbury. “I guess we see it as our civic duty to join that musical discussion.” Don’t you want a little town in your country?
- The Mbar, Hollywood, June 28th
Meet the Music International Call-in Numbers
Local numbers in the USA, UK, Australia Europe, Japan, Nigeria, South Africa.
United States: (559) 546 1700 (CA)),, code 472737 , Saturday 10am PST
Australia +61 1300 559 047, code 472737 , Sydney Sunday 5am
Austria +43 (0) 1 265 05 40, code 472737 , Vienna, Saturday 7pm
Czech Republic +420 225 989 140, code 472737 , Prague, Saturday 7pm
France +33 (0) 1 8014 0620, code 472737 , Paris, Saturday 7pm
Germany +49 (0) 234 543 9810, code 472737 , Berlin, Saturday 7pm
Japan +81 3 5050 5073, code 472737 , Tokyo Sunday 3am
Nigeria +234 1 667 0010, code 472737 , Lagos, Saturday 7pm
Portugal +351 21005 1191, code 472737 , Lisbon, Saturday 6pm
Romania +40 317 807 020, code 472737 , Bucharest, Saturday 8pm
South Africa +27 87 825 0190, code 472737, Cape Town, Saturday 8pm
Spain +34 91 119 6770, code 472737 , Madrid, Saturday 7pm
Switzerland +41 (0) 44 595 9030, code 472737 , Zurich, Saturday 7pm
United Kingdom +44 (0) 784 843 2901, code 472737 , London, Saturday 7pm
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