Rich Layton & Tough Town Announce May 31 Album
Recently signed by Portland’s Never Lucky Records, Rich Layton & Tough Town weave a swampadelic soundtrack for a last chance Saturday night with their new album, Salvation Road. Each song fizzles out with a roaring bite and an undertone of tenderness like the last drop of whisky on the tip of the tongue. An empty table waits for each listener under the broken neon light in a dive bar out on Salvation Road.
With ten original songs and a psychedelic ‘60s cover, Salvation Road is high octane American music, roaring down two-lane Southern asphalt. It’s The Yardbirds jamming with Johnny Cash; The Stones on a week-long bender with Delbert McClinton at Muscle Shoals’ Fame Studio; and Elvis sitting in at a Memphis juke joint, backed by Sun blues cats and the growl of an amplified harmonica. Making the influences all his own, Layton takes on every song with the conviction of firebrand rock and roll preacher determined to save your soul - and his.
Special guests include Teresa James, a 2019 Grammy nominee (with Wilson) for Best Contemporary Blues Album, whose sultry duet vocal on “Show Me What You’re Workin’ With” doubles down on the premise of love as a two-way street. Teresa also adds rocking barrelhouse piano background vocals to several other tracks on the album. Layton also recruited Portland’s legendary godfather of rock and roll, Jon Koonce, to add a searing lap steel to the apocalyptic soundscape of “Raise It Up / Burn It Down.” Bubbling just under the surface in the mix, Koonce’s track sends a chill down the spine.
Saxophonist Chris Mercer is, for Layton, the most noteworthy guest. Mercer began his career with John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers in 1967 and has since played with a Who’s Who of British blues and rock royalty. On “Live to Rock,” Mercer is the unbroken thread that weaves back to the records that saved Layton’s life as a kid.
Salvation Road Track Listing
- Live to Rock
- Salvation Road
- Raise It Up
- Wake-up Call
- Show Me What You’re Workin’ With
- (feat. Teresa James)
- Dollars to Donuts
- Sorry Don’t Cut It
- Two Hearts
- The Dude Abides
- Soul Divided
- Take A Giant Step
About Rich Layton & Tough Town
As Houston-raised Gulf Coast musicians, Rich Layton and co-producer Terry Wilson grew up steeped in multiple genres – garage rock, blue-eyed soul, country, blues, Louisiana swamp pop, and Zydeco. When he began playing harmonica with then-girlfriend Lucinda Williams in Austin, Texas, it turned into a life sentence. After honing their chops on street corners and dives, the two moved to Houston to join the seminal music scene at Anderson Fair. Layton became the house harp player at this inner city club that was home to Townes Van Zandt, Nanci Griffith, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Lyle Lovett, and many other Texas-bred singer-songwriters. In 1985, the Lone Star State’s leading music magazine honored Layton as one of six Texas Harmonica Tornados, a list that included such luminaries as Kim Wilson and Delbert McClinton. Dubbed “The Duke of Juke,” he was city’s premier harp player and best-dressed musician.
After 25 years in Houston, Layton and his wife relocated to Portland where he entered the vibrant NW music scene as a respected harp player. On a tour stop in Portland, long-time friend and mentor Stanley Dural, Jr. aka Buckwheat Zydeco encouraged Layton to start his own band. Not long after that fateful afternoon, Rich Layton & The Troublemakers emerged, playing a high octane blend of roots rock, honky-tonk and more for a growing local and regional audience. Layton also sat in with old friends Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett, Dale Watson, and others when their shows would hit town. Recently renamed and signed by Portland’s Never Lucky Records, the band weaves a swampadelic soundtrack for a last chance Saturday night with the upcoming album release, Salvation Road.