Lee Roy Parnell To Release First New Studio Album In Eleven Years On August 11th

Lee Roy Parnell will release Midnight Believer on August 11 via Vector Recordings, by BFD Distribution (The Orchard). Parnell’s new album encompasses a realized vision that reflects the cumulative essence of who Lee Roy Parnell is today. He states, “One of the best things about gaining some maturity is you finally find out ‘Who You Is and Who You Ain’t.’ That said, I’d have to say that the song ‘Too Far Gone’ best describes me as an artist, now. It’s clearly a Blue-Eyed Soul ‘Beat Ballad’ as Barry Beckett (of The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and my first producer) would call it. Barry really taught me how to make records. He taught me about groove, soul, vocal delivery and how to make every note count! The message here is in life and love we ebb and flow. We have good days and tough days. What counts is going the distance (or at least as far as you can).”

Lee Roy Parnell on Country Music NewsParnell is part of a long line of Texas roots-music eclectics, and is among the elite few who can be identified as a triple threat. An ace guitarist, as well as a distinctive singer, and hit songwriter, his music runs the gamut of diversity. Combining the influences of Blue-Eyed Soul, Delta Blues, Road House Rock, Southern Boogie, Texas Swing, and Gospel, Parnell’s sound defies conventional classification. He draws from a broad range of musical sources and combines them with seamless dexterity and, unlike many other hard-to-pigeonhole artists, Parnell has enjoyed a run of success on the country and blues charts. He reflects, “I am a writer, guitarist, vocalist & a performer. Every skill set feeds the next. I’ve never been able to separate one from the other. It all starts with the song and when writing I’ve found that nothing is stronger than the truth. It is from that wellspring that my singing and playing are born…performing, too. My goal is to keep it honest and let the listener feel what I’m feeling. No matter our different walks in life I believe that most of us experience similar emotions. I’m tapping into you as much as you are tapping into me.”

Musically, Parnell presents some of the best performances of his career on Midnight Believer. He approached this release with the intention of letting the music and performances speak. There is a level of organically-delivered emotion through his playing that took the path of not over-producing every track. He reflects, “Well, it’s funny…most folks think of me primarily as a slide guitarist, and to some degree that is true, but I played ‘regular lead guitar’ long before I played slide. On the song ‘Hours In Between’ what you’re hearing is one continuous lead guitar track from me…one pass going down with my band and no fixes. Not to say I didn’t want to, but they all threatened to walk out on me if I did! Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t get the chance to fix anything.”

On the songwriting side, Parnell collaborated solely with Greg Barnhill on the record, co-writing all 10 of the tracks together. Parnell offers, “When Greg came to me with the idea of us getting together to write, I was experiencing something of a dry spell. I hadn’t written anything in months and hoped the fog would lift but when you’re in a dry spell you always wonder, ‘What if the words don’t come…where is my ability to come up with fresh musical ideas?’ Greg saw through all that, lit a new fuse and just like that, we were off to the races. The songs were literally coming faster than we could write them down. Sometimes you just need a little help from a friend, and I certainly got lucky with Mr. Barnhill’s enthusiasm and encouragement.”

Barnhill and Parnell’s dear friend, Etta Britt, sang all background vocals with the exception of the mighty voices of the The Fairfield Four who sang the “Keep On Walking” line repeated in the bridge of “Sunny Days.” Parnell recalls, “Some of you might remember our version of ‘John The Revelator’ for which we got a CMA Vocal Event of the Year nomination back in 1999. You can’t hear these four men sing together without feeling the Spirit move you. ‘Sunny Days’ would not be the same without them.”

Two bands entered the studio in Nashville and offered their performances for the sessions that would become Midnight Believer. First, Lee Roy’s ensemble who he has performed with for 20 years featuring Steve Mackey (bass), Kevin McKendree (keys), and Lynn Williams (drums), along with guest guitarist Tom Bukovac. The second band was comprised of friends Lee Roy has known for many years, including Rob McNelly (guitar), David LaBruyere (bass), Michael Rojas (keys), and Chad Cromwell (drums).

Parnell offers, “I love many different styles of music…but for me it all goes back to The Blues. Blue-Eyed Soul, Jazz, Rock n Roll and Country all have the same Daddy and that Daddy is The Blues. As long as it’s soulful, I’m in. Muddy Waters was right — ‘The Blues had a baby and they called it Rock ‘n Roll!’

Parnell continues to live every day with the mantra to keep on keeping on, producing material and playing shows he is proud of. He reflects, “Only now do I feel like I’m truly hitting my stride. Lifers don’t quit, you know. I’d like to keep making a record every 18 months of so…record with some friends of mine again. I want to keep making music that comes straight from the heart.”


Track Listing:

Midnight Believer
1. Hours In Between
2. Midnight Believer
3. Pontchartrain
4. Too Far Gone
5. Sunny Days (Feat. The Fairfield Four)
6. Want Whatcha’ Have
7. Hair Of The Dog
8. Going Uptown
9. Tied Up And Tangled
10. Some Time Ago
Midnight Believer
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Confirmed Midnight Believer Tour performances include:

7/22 El Dorado, AR 2017 Murphy USA Summer Concert Series
7/29 Sidney, OH Sidney Theater
8/10 Denver, CO Guitar Center In-Store Celebrating Album Release
8/13 Copper Mountain, CO Guitar Town 2017 (w/ Guitar Army) *
8/17 Franklin, TN Franklin Theater
8/18 Atlanta, GA City Winery
8/26 Milwaukee, WI UW-M Panther Arena (Southern Uprising) +
8/27 Louisville, KY Kentucky State Fair (Southern Uprising) !
9/05 Annapolis, MD Rams Head On Stage
9/09 New York, NY City Winery
9/12 Nashville, TN AMERICANAFEST
9/13 Buffalo, NY Sportsmen’s Tavern (w/ Guitar Army) *
9/14 Ridgefield, CT The Ridgefield Playhouse (w/ Guitar Army) *
9/15 Galloway, NJ Stockton University PAC (w/ Guitar Army) *
9/16 Bay Shore, NY YMCA Boulton Center (w/ Guitar Army) *
10/01 Sioux City, IA Tyson Events Center (Southern Uprising) #
10/13 Dallas, TX La Rita

All appearances are headline shows excluding those with the notation + or *:
+ – The Southern Uprising Tour – Parnell appears with Travis Tritt & The Charlie Daniels Band
! – The Southern Uprising Tour – Parnell appears with Travis Tritt, The Charlie Daniels Band & The Marshall Tucker Band
# – The Southern Uprising Tour – Parnell appears with Travis Tritt, The Charlie Daniels Band & Scooter Brown Band
– Guitar Army performance featuring: Lee Roy Parnell, John Jorgenson, Joe Robinson

About Shauna "WhiskeyChick" Castorena

Shauna "WhiskeyChick" Castorena is a freelance writer for both Country Music News and Country Music On Tour. Want to collab on some content? Email me. Want my rates for commercial promo work? Get them right here.