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Railers quit their day jobs, decide to go for life in band

By Jack Hill

This article was published October 17, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.

Reckless Kelly is a band that needs no introduction, having logged many a central Arkansas show for a decade or more. The band will visit again this weekend while on tour to promote the band’s eighth studio album, Long Night Moon, released Sept. 3.

The opening act, however, is new to these parts. The Railers neither get to the band’s gigs via train travel, nor do they wish to be considered to somehow be the opposite of another group, The Derailers, though the band might not object to some overlap in audiences.

“We have decided to go for it and we all quit our jobs and have dedicated ourselves to writing songs and recording them and getting a CD released,” says drummer Tyler Oban.

The Railers came about when three musicians from Arizona made their way to Nashville, Tenn., and got to know Indiana drummer Oban, and the foursome discovered they all shared the dream of forming a group and working hard at writing, recording and touring.

Brothers Jordan and Jonathan Lawson, who had grown up in Mountain Grove, Mo., just east of Springfield, had moved with their parents to Arizona, where they grew up and attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Both learned to play violin and studied classical music. Jonathan now plays acoustic guitar and mandolin and sings and Jordan plays mandolin and fiddle and sings.

Jonathan met Cassandra Marcum, who sings and plays concertina, and the two are now married. Marcum had attended NAU and studied opera, but learned her vocal cords were not going to prove suitable for opera, so she also signed onto the dreams of her husband and brother-in-law.

Oban says prior to the quartet’s decision to seek their fortune, starting on Sept. 11, 2010, all were working for other people’s musical dreams. Jonathan played in Sara Evans’ band; Jordan worked for Josh Turner and Lorrie Morgan, and Cassandra was pursuing modeling and acting. And the three Lawsons and Oban were once known as Tin Cup Gypsy, but decided to go for a change of name and focus.

“We would work as Tin Cup Gypsy and get a gig and then we’d end up having to cancel it when Josh would call Jordan to play or Sara [Evans] would get hold of Jonathan,” Oban says. “Sara asked Jonathan to stay till the end of that year and invited us to go out and open for her, then be her backing band, so we’d go from playing a 5,000-seat hockey arena to back to the tiny clubs our band was used to. I had been [in] some Christian bands and we would come close to getting a record deal and then fizzle out.”

The Railers eventually got a deal with Atlantic Records; the band is working with producer Justin Niebank, who has worked with Taylor Swift, Vince Gill, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley.

“We have six songs fully recorded, and we’ll finish up a few more before the end of the year, with hopes of a spring release of the album,” Oban says.

Reckless Kelly

Opening act: The Railers

9 p.m. Saturday, Revolution Room, 300 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock

Admission: $15

(501) 823-0090

revroom.com

Weekend, Pages 35 on 10/17/2013

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