Randy McAllister at EdenVale Winery
Heartbreak, humor, high hair (a reference to the stereotypical women's hairdos in Texas during "the day") and tall Texan tales all play parts in Randy McAllister's songwriting.
With his easygoing personality and wry wit, McAllister weaves material into his songs with nods to a variety of styles — rock, Tex-Mex, blues, zydeco and gospel — to create a sound that is solely his. He digs into tough subjects such as urban violence and homelessness, as well as more universal ones such as love and dating — with a blues-man's sensibilities thrown into the mix.
"I don't try to be genre specific because my heart is in Texas blues and soul," McAllister says during a telephone interview. "It's what got me into music to begin with, and I followed that style until my songwriting started to develop."
Drummer and harp player McAllister and his band — Mya Van Nuys on fiddle, Rob Dewan on guitar and Matt Higgins on bass — will perform from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 26, at EdenVale Winery, 2310 Voorhies Road, Medford. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased by calling 541-512-2955, ext. 2, or at the door.
Raised in a small town called Novice, McAllister is a fifth-generation Texan. His father was a fireman and a drummer who played in a band called The Flames.
"He played whatever was popular at the time," McAllister says. "He and his band were kind of all over the map, but he loved blues and soul, too."
McAllister followed in his father's footsteps at a young age and took up drumming, but percussion was just the beginning as he began to develop as a singer and songwriter.
"I started leading a band as a singer and harmonica player, but I was never comfortable up front," McAllister says. "I'm just not that guy. So I went back to the drums to lead the band from there.
"I scaled down to a trio and, to keep things interesting, I taught myself to play harmonica and drum kit. The trick was just getting used to it. Don't think about it too much or you'll blow yourself out of the water."
Now based in Rapid City, S.D., McAllister and his band are touring the country this summer.
"The musicians working with me are very young and very new," McAllister says. "I've never worked with such young players before, but I'm enjoying it."
He found them on Craigslist quite by accident, he was trying to sell an old car. Van Nuys, Dewan and Higgins were booking themselves as a Johnny Cash tribute band and needed a drummer. McAllister contacted them out of curiosity.
"I could tell that they had skills and potential, and I started gigging with them and getting to know them," he says. "I decided to hire them, and they've done great, everything I thought they would do and more. And they're having a good time. They get to play."
McAllister's newest album, "Be Like Water," was recorded at his friend Paul Osborne's studio, Audio Dallas, in east Dallas. A newer, yet unnamed, album is set for release in mid-July.
His critically acclaimed albums begin with his debut "Diggin' for Sofa Change," followed by "Grease, Grit, Dirt and Spit," "Double Rectified Bust Head" and his 2002 Grammy-nominated "Givers and Takers." He has a total of 10 full-length records to his credit.
"People have been receptive to what I do. I've been fortunate," he says. "A lot of guys choose Nashville for recording, but I grew up in a small town and like to return to Texas to do my work."