No Justice brings ‘red dirt’ north
“Red dirt” country band No Justice has long been taking its music to new frontiers beyond the Oklahoma-Texas border.
The U.S. group has toured its country-folk, roots-rock sound through Ireland, Mexico, the Dominican Republic — and has even jammed with various musicians in Jamaica.
“One night a Rastafarian played the trumpet with us, next time, another Rastafarian dropped in to play the guitar with us. It was truly cool to be able to do that,” said No Justice singer/guitarist Steve Rice, who believes music, of any kind, opens doors.
“Even if you don’t understand (the words) it breaks a lot of barriers.”
The next place the band plans to break into is Canada.
No Justice will play in Alberta for the first time on Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Texas Connection Music Festival at the Daines Rodeo Grounds near Innisfail, along with Jackson Taylor and the Sinners, and Big Casino.
Rice admitted he has no idea what to expect from the Great White North — he doesn’t even know whether his group has many fans up here. “If there’s not a lot, we’re going to make some more!” he said, with a chuckle.
South of the border, No Justice is becoming known for well written, “Americana-Southern rock” songs about relationships, including the ballad Red Dress, The Toast and Love Song — which got a lot of exposure after being used on the Rock Band video game.
America’s Son, the group’s latest album, takes its sound in a rootsier direction than the previous release, 2nd Avenue — and Rice is fine with that.
“It gets us back to our original idea — which is more roots than rock. But it’s where I’m most comfortable,” said the singer, who has lived his whole life around Stillwater, Okla., where red dirt music springs from.
The genre has been described as a mix of folk, rock, country, bluegrass, blues, Western swing and honky tonk — even a few Mexican influences.
Rice took on much of the writing on America’s Son, including three song collaborations with band bassist Justin Morris and lead guitarist Cody Patton. The Top 10 single Shot in the Dark was the first song the band members came up with. “We wrote it in a hotel room and it provoked more writing from within the band,” recalled Rice of the song about getting up the nerve to make a connection in a crowded bar.
The singer said he always writes about what he knows. “I don’t do well with making up stories in my head. I typically turn to topics everybody can relate to.”
For instance, the title for the tune Life’s Too Short, pretty much says it all.
“That was a song we originally wrote for 2nd Avenue, but it didn’t fit real well on that record so we saved it for this one,” added Rice.
The songwriter was hospitalized several times last March for gall bladder surgery, a viral infection and, ultimately, pneumonia, which resulted in a buildup of fluid around his heart and lungs. But he’s in fine health now.
Rice doesn’t see himself writing specifically about those “scary” experiences. “But it does give you a different outlook on life in general,” which will undoubtedly colour future songwriting, he said.
Tickets to the outdoor festival are $35. For more ticket, schedule and timetable information, visit www.txconnection.com.