Itís 2002 and the world waits for a musical revolution again. Since the beginning of Rock and Roll, itís become commonplace for the revolutionary to become tired and sick, overblown and unremarkable, the formerly vital new music form losing all credibility and needing a shot in the arm from some new form of music. Just when things have gotten as slick, boring and commercial as they possibly can, in comes a dose of reality. It usually happens at the beginning (or end) of a decade, and judging by the current state of pop country music, the musical rebirth should be upon us any moment.
The Coal Men have never been about revolution. In fact, their music is as steeped in tradition as the Anytown, USAs the members grew up in. The sun rises and sets, a workday has come and gone, and leader Dave Coleman has probably written a song about something that happened to him or someone he knows. Dave, Justin Schipper, Dave Ray, and Jason Hitchcock (just call him Hitch) are The Coal Men, a group of best friends who have been playing Daveís songs for a few years now. Lots of groups are friends, and even more groups have been playing together for a few years, but The Coal Men are unmistakably different. An effortless chemistry happens onstage, new songs often go from paper to finished form in a matter of minutes, and audiences in the middle Tennessee area (and beyond) have been consistently spellbound by the live shows that these four passionate 20-somethings put on. Dave Coleman still insists itís all about a song, "Just write what you write, it's good if it's really you. I feel really confident about some songs just because I know that they're my real thoughts & feelings. When I get away from that, I starting feeling like it's not a part of me, then sing it like it's not a part of me. Just write real."
Accolades from the locals include glowing live reviews from Western Beat Monthly, being touted as a band on the verge of success numerous times by The Tennessean and being hailed as a "rising talent of left-of-center country" by The Nashville Scene. Duane Jarvis has even referred to Dave Coleman as "a young man with an old soul." The close ties to alt-country/roots rock monarchs like Duane Jarvis, Joy Lynn White (both of whom have enlisted members of The Coal Men as sidemen for international tours) and Jason White should speak for themselves. Coleman was recently signed to Acuff-Rose Music as a writer under the wing of BMIís Songwriter of the Year 2000, Skip Ewing. Playing for festival crowds at last yearís "Dancing In The District", the frequent performances on Billy Blockís Western Beat at the legendary Exit/In, and headlining spots at the highly respected 12th & Porter venue have helped to advance this young bandís career over the past year. Being called the next big thing by the local press came as quite a compliment to a band so young and so close to its roots. It is by this twist that The Coal Men could be called revolutionary.
Four years and hundreds of songs down the road, the time finally came to put them down on record. The Fall and Winter of 2001 were spent either on the road or behind the walls of The Castle studio in Franklin, TN recording what could only be the stunning debut album. Out of the hundred or so songs that The Coal Men feel are strong enough to play live, the band and producer Steve Short had to choose the absolute best of those to put on the record. The result is a young, vibrant, classic first album from a seasoned live band. This record is bursting at the seams with audience favorites and recorded with an earthiness that exposes truth and emotion in every song. Short easily sums up what The Coal Men are all about, "The Coal Men remind people that music is not a formula, not a business, but rather a way of speaking to the human soul in a way that is not quantifiable through simple words. From the first time I heard them and still today, they remind me how music can so deeply touch a person on a basic level that you feel changed in that moment."