2019 CD FEATURE
YELLOW ROSE MOTEL (Loud Ranch Records)
DOUBLE MURDER CRIME OF PASSION AT YELLOW ROSE MOTEL
“It was a cold, rainy night/ I couldn't stand anymore/ I knew she wasn't alone/ when I kicked down that door/ I had a bullet for her and a bullet for him/ I pulled the trigger and I pulled it again/ love, love is a crime in room number twelve down at the Yellow Rose Motel.” - Yellow Rose Motel - George Ducas-Jeremy Crady.
When Texas City born hit-writer George Ducas needed a source for his dual death crime of passion title track for fourth album Yellow Rose Motel he didn't have to look far.
He didn't use the murder of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez - Queen of Tejano - at the age of 23 at a Corpus Christi motel on March 31, 1995.
Or another armed robbery at the Yellow Rose Strip Club in Austin on December 10, 2016.
Instead he resurrected fellow Texan singing actor Willie Nelson's famed Red Headed Stranger album and movie as his inspiration.
At just 48 Ducas is almost four decades younger than Willie, now 86, but their traditional country music themes as song sources is a common denominator.
“I've never written a six-minute song, but it's a cool story,” Ducas revealed.
“It's my tip of my hat to Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger record. I learned to play guitar listening to that record, at least acoustic guitar and chords.”
And those other Yellow Rose Motels and strip clubs.
“No, the song was not inspired by the strip club shooting - although the vibe is eerily similar,” George told me.
“In fact I didn't find out about the strip club until after we wrote the song. I was slightly aware of the Branson hotel, from a google search, but that also played no part. The motel featured on the album art is just an old motel located here in Nashville , on Nolensville Road - the Yellow Rose Motel sign was actually created by my artwork designer and dropped into the photo. Amazing, what you can do these days.!”
Ducas produced his album with Matt McClure in Nashville.
George is the son of an Exxon chemical engineer and English professor but after their divorce he moved to San Diego with his mother and later to Houston with his dad.
Like many peers Ducas studied at Vanderbilt University in Nashville .
He graduated in 1989 with a degree in economics and spent six months working as a banker in Atlanta before choosing music as his career in Nashville .
It was there he met expat Australasian publisher and entrepreneur Barry Coburn after playing in clubs for three years and writing fellow Texan Radney Foster's Top 10 hit Just Call Me Lonesome.
“My hope is that this album is one you believe to be special,” Ducas confessed.
“I'm more than pleased with it - quite honestly, it's the most excited about an album release since my very first, back when Barry and I were working together.”
Ducas recorded his self-titled 1994 debut album for Liberty and his second album Where I Stand for Capitol in 1997.
His chart songs included Teardrops, Lipstick Promises, Hello Cruel World and Kisses Don't Lie .
Ducas opened shows for Coburn client - Georgian superstar Alan Jackson - Toby Keith, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Diamond Rio , The Mavericks and Faith Hill.
Ducas and Keith Anderson were co-writers on Beer Run - a Top 30 duet for Garth Brooks and late Texan George Jones in 2001.
George met Anderson , on Keith's arrival in Nashville in 1996, at a football game.
They began writing together and wrote Beer Run with Kent Blazey and Kim Williams.
Ducas songs have also been covered by fellow Texans The Dixie Chicks , Randy Rogers Band and Eli Young Band, Gary Allan, Josh Thompson and Trisha Yearwood.
But the singer had a recording hiatus after his 2008 album for White Star hit the cutting room floor with the label's demise.
Instead he released EP Volume Up, Windows Down for Propel Records in 2010 and his third album 4340 in October 2013 on independent label Loud Ranch .
Loud Ranch is his current label and launch pad for a planned Australian tour in 2020.
OCTOGENARIAN EASTWOOD INSPIRATION
“Steal you like an outlaw/ love to be your downfall/ I'd kill to drive you crazy/ say my name, now come on baby/ pull back those satin sheets/ slide over here with me/ I'll make you feel like a real woman should/ love you like Eastwood.” - Eastwood - George Ducas-Jacob Lyda.
Keith, just 57, Willie and Texan singing comedian Rodney Carrington starred in 2008 movie Beer For My Horses, Whiskey For My Men.
Meanwhile back to Ducas who uses his Clint metaphor as a plea to a dream lover in a video filmed in East Nashville.
“We shot the Eastwood video in two locations, one in downtown and East Nashville on the train tracks,” Ducas revealed.
“The second we actually shot in the studio where I recorded all my vocals for the album. So the video actually gives everyone an inside look at where we made the music. Eastwood is a song that came upon me like a feeling you get travelling somewhere out west, could be anywhere.
“It's all wrapped up in a love song, but it's not just any love song. It's about what it means as a man to really love a woman, and in the spirit of the great American romance, love her the way she really wants to be loved. I didn't see them growing up, but I've always loved those old, big screen-Clint Eastwood westerns. Every man wants to be Clint.”
George has since filmed a video for Unlove You.
“ Unlove You was actually filmed in Nashville ,” Ducas explained.
“Yes, it has grown that much since your last visit. It's basically exploded. The streets in the clip were First Avenue downtown and the one of the bridges that cross over the Cumberland River.
“The female lead is Justina Crosslin who also doubles as my fiancé so she was “in the budget”, as they say! She is also a model and has worked all over the world including but not in any way limited to other music videos in her past - such as Gary Allan's Watchin' Airplanes and others.”
It's not Justina's first rodeo on Nu Country.
Californian born surfing cowboy Allan's Watchin' Airplanes video debuted on Nu Country in January 19, 2008, before his fourth Australia tour with Canadian Corb Lund to promote aptly named big selling seventh Universal album Living Hard .
COUNTRY BADASS AND COLD BUDS
“I could taste the foam of that first sip/ mug so cold, frostbit my lip/ been dreaming about it all week long/ and how good it would taste with a country song/ can't wait to get on out of here/ wrap my hand around a beer/ don't wanna hear the latest news/ about them imports and them microbrews.” - Cold Bud - George Ducas-Greg Hudik.
The sting in the tail of George's tale is the urban cowboy is heard playing hip-hop in his four-wheel drive, fitted as a pick-up truck, on his arrival at the bar.
Equally accessible are alcohol analogies for unrestrained love in I'm All In while new single Unlove You finds his character unable to forget a slow burning lover.
Ducas is proud his album is an independent release - he doesn't have to answer to anyone but has the freedom to create the album that he wanted to create.
But his discipline enabled him to decide when it was a finished product.
“You can keep on keeping on but, at some point, you just have to call it done or it'll never get released,” Ducas revealed.
“Anything outside of that just has to become part of the next project. An album is just a snapshot in time, a song is complete.
“Artistically, the freedom of performing brings completeness to the writing side. It's the finishing piece to the song.”
He exploits pathos in wisdom fuelled historic homily Old Timers - a vast contrast to the rollicking romance of hook heavy I Got This and nocturnal nirvana in Why Start Now .
The celebratory Cold Bud is tempered by the road to redemption in Preachers and Pushers and sinful finale where a dual crime of passion at the Yellow Rose Motel finds the character on death row.
“ Yellow Rose Motel is kind of that place you'd imagine, just off the interstate exit, on a highway journey that's filled with all of life's experiences: love, hope, regret, loneliness, laughter, even sarcasm,” Ducas explained.
Ducas collaborated on his 12 original songs with a vast cast of writers including Alabama born singer Jacob Lyda and Texans Jeremy Crady, Jim Beavers and Joey Green.
Maryland minstrel Neal Coty, Tennesseans Trent Summar and Jon Henderson, Nashville producer Greg Hudik, Indiana export Jeff Silvey and Zack Hollcroft also contribute.
Ducas plays acoustic guitar on a disc fleshed out by five electric guitarists, drummer Tommy Harden, bassists Mark Hill and Joeie Canady, Michael Johnson on steel guitar and Jim Horn on horns.
Russell Terrell, Wes Hightower and Keifer Thompson and Shawna Thompson of Thompson Square add background vocals.
Ducas has performed Wembley Arena in the United Kingdom , shows in Ireland , a soccer stadium in Brazil , a Red Cross ball in Switzerland and major festivals in France and Japan.
“My music has been many places, but never Australia and I really, really want to change that in 2020,” Ducas revealed.
It would seem the 13th CMC Rocks Queensland festival in Ipswich in March would be an ideal launch pad.