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Shane Dwight back in town with best new CD of his career

Tim Parsons
Shane Dwight is in the Red Room on Saturday night.
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Nashville, the way Shane Dwight describes it, is the musical hub it’s cracked up to be.

After he moved there from San Jose three years ago, one of his first friends he met was Rock House Studio artist Malcolm Bruce, the son of Cream’s Jack Bruce. When he ran out of cymbals during a show at B.B. King’s, John Hyatt’s drummer, Kenneth Blevins, brought some replacements. On the day he took a call from Lake Tahoe Action, Carrie Underwood was spotted at a grocery store.

Four months after moving to the Nashville suburb of Franklin, his neighbor told him another musician lived next door. “Some guy who is in a band with a guy named Dilbert.”

“I said, ‘Do you mean, Delbert … McClinton?'” Dwight said.

Dwight soon afterward met a man who lives literally a stone’s throw away, McClinton’s producer Kevin McKendree. To record his seventh album in 10 years, Dwight was able to walk to McKendree’s next-door studio. The session players were McClinton’s Dick 50 band and the backup singers were three of the McCrary Sisters and Lynn Bramlett, daughter of Delaney and Bonnie, the influential band from the late 1960s-early ’70s.

Many of Dwight’s songs were inspired by his marriage, which went South after the couple moved to Tennessee. He wrote 11 of the 12 songs on “A Hundred White Lies” (released in September), which includes tracks with a common theme, “Love’s Last Letter,” “Love That’s True” and “True Love’s Gone.”

Dwight’s early albums were straight-ahead blues, and he is usually categorized in that mostly 12-bar category, playing blues festivals and cruises and getting airtime on Bill Wax’s satellite radio show on the channel “B.B. King’s Bluesville.”

However, at least the last three of his albums have a singular Shane Dwight sound, a blend of country, rock and blues.

“There’s one cover on the record, ‘Wagon Wheel,’ and (Wax) has been playing that a lot on his program (as well as ‘A Hundred White Lies,’ ‘She Struts,’ ‘Love That’s True’).

“(Wax) said, ‘I hesitate to play it because its not a blues song, but I really like the cut. I just want to let everybody know that you’re one of our guys and if you want to branch out a little and do something that’s a little country or a little something else that’s what you should do. … People listen to my program and think I’m an old diehard blues guy and I love that, but I love a lot of stuff.'”

Dwight said he recorded seven songs during last week’s visit to the XM headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“It’s a whole city block long,” Dwight said. “It has a beautiful recording studio. I was there for 10 minutes and we had recorded the first song.”

The station has a library of more than 1,000 songs it has recorded for its unscheduled “Homemade Jams,” he said.

“A Hundred White Lies” could be the best album Dwight has released. Again, he said the studio sessions were remarkable.

“I’m really proud to have the cast of musicians that I got to pull this record off with; I am happy and humbled,” he said. “It’s really cool hearing these great musicians’ take on my music. We cut 15 songs in three days. It’s not like we rehearsed them for hours. We charted it out, we talked about the feel, we counted it off. That’s how they do it.”

Although he now lives across the country, Dwight continues to play often in the Reno-Tahoe region. He performs Saturday, Dec. 10, free in the Crystal Bay Casino Red Room. The Shane Dwight Band was the first to be nominated by the Reno Blues Society to compete in the annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis. However, he became ill and never competed. As a “pro” with a record contract, Dwight now is ineligible to compete in the IBC, but he performed at the Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale Street last winter one night before the Reno Blues Society-nominated Jason King Band played in the same venue. (The Jason King Band won the local competition again this year and will return to Memphis in February.)

Dwight’s music nowadays wouldn’t fit in the format of the IBC. It’s way too country.

“Ultimately, I’ve played all those old blues songs a bunch of times and I love them,” he said. “But it’s not as thrilling as when I write something that just sounds like me. That’s more fun. It feels more gratifying. It’s your own thing and that’s ultimately what you want to have.”

Dwight has no aversion making a full country record, but his sound is far different than today’s heavily aired popular country sound.

“I love old country and I like some of the new stuff, too, but I don’t think in those terms,” he said. “I would have to be produced. I would have to take my songs with a bunch of players and Nashville producer. I write stylistically. My influences are an older style than newer poppy kind of country that’s on radio now. But I’m not dissing new country. Don’t get me wrong there some great singers out there.”

Dissing country music for Dwight would be downright unneighborly.


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