Billy Droze is about to become a household name among lovers of bluegrass music. Remember… you read it here first.
Those working in our industry have recognized his talents for years, writing songs for The Grascals, Junior Sisk, Flatt Lonesome, Marty Raybon and others. He has also penned ones recorded by country artists Daryl Worley and Jamie O’Neil.
I Know Better, one Billy wrote with Chris Meyers, made it to #1 for The Grascals earlier this year on our Bluegrass Today Weekly Airplay Chart, and another, Her Memory Again, reached #5 for Flatt Lonesome. Nashville knows what this 29 year old music maker can do, and the rest of the bluegrass world is fixing to find out.
Rural Rhythm Records has released a single to radio from their upcoming project with Droze, co-produced by Billy with Ronnie Bowman. At this point only three songs have been completed, but the label couldn’t wait to get one out to the public via bluegrass radio.
Billy’s not just a clever songwriter; he can sing bluegrass and country with the best of them. His voice betrays his love of both genres, instilled as a child by his father, Bob “Red” Droze, who was a bluegrass, country, and Gospel artist. Red had recorded an album for Rural Rhythm back in 1962 under its original owner, Uncle Jim O’Neal, and had his son onstage with him by the time he was four.
The younger Droze followed his dad when he moved to Texas from Alabama, but left for Nashville to establish his own career not long afterward. There he has been writing and performing wherever he could, including a stint with country mega-band Shenandoah under the pseudonym Billy Ryan.
The first single is Billy’s version of the old standard, Columbus Stockade Blues. To assist in the studio, Droze and Bowman brought in Jason Roller on guitar, Gary Waldrop on banjo, David Freeman on mandolin, Rob Ickes on reso-guitar, Andy Leftwich on fiddle, and Kevin Grant on bass.
Billy says that this song is one that has been on his mind for years.
“I first heard Columbus Stockade Blues as a teenager in Alabama from a dear friend I called my Grandfather Jack Alexander. He would pick up his old Martin and sing it to me and quote these words jokingly with a grin ‘Bill if you had any sense you’d record this song and make it big.’ I’d laugh and shrug it off, all the while knowing I would just for him if ever given the chance. Sam Passamano, II, President of Rural Rhythm Records, and I talked about recording a classic traditional song and I immediately heard Jack in the back of my mind telling me to PICK Columbus Stockade Blues. So I did…When it came down to cutting the vocal I wanted to make sure the original melody was intact, so I immediately called longtime friend Ronnie Bowman. This song was a one taker with the band it just seem to flow out effortlessly. So in a way old seeds planted still grow and I’m sure glad they did. I do believe we all did it justice with a slight twist, and I bet old Jack is smiling.”
The single is available now to radio programmers now through Airplay Direct.