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Rich Layton & Tough Town Announce Single, "Salvation Road"

Throughout their careers, Elvis, Jerry Lee and Little Richard were torn between singing the devil’s music and the gospel songs they were raised on. Sixty years later, Rich Layton & Tough Town resolve that conflict with a song can get people on the dance floor Saturday night or in the aisles on Sunday morning. "Salvation Road" is the swampadelic title track and first single off the upcoming album co-produced by Layton and LA-based Terry Wilson, a fellow ex-Texan and 2019 Grammy nominee. The album is due out May 31 on Never Lucky Records.



“Salvation Road” slips inside a storefront gospel mission to deliver a shot of rock and roll redemption, wrapped in a deep groove and sweet harmony by the sisters in the choir.  Today’s lesson – everyone has something that guides them towards the right path. We’re all pilgrims on this road, doing the best we can from one day to the next. We might stumble, get knocked down, knocked off or knocked out. What matters is getting back up and putting one foot in front of the other.

“Perseverance has been the story of my life,” says Rich. “I was intrigued by the idea of offering a message of encouragement without being too obvious. I’m writing about what I believe, but I also want people dancing their asses off to it whether the message registers or not.”

Rich Layton’s first album of original songs was very nearly his last. Just six months into worldwide airplay, hitting the charts and hitting the road, it all came to a frightening halt. A mysterious hearing issue left him unable to perform, tolerate noise or even talk on the telephone.

At the end of 2012, he underwent inner ear surgery, followed by 21 days of bed rest. Recovery would eventually take more than 18 months, as Layton waited to see if his playing days were over.  When he finally came out the other side of the long ordeal, he wrote “Live to Rock,” the hard-driving personal anthem that kicks off the return album, Salvation Road.

With ten original songs and a psychedelic ‘60s cover, Salvation Road is high octane American music roaring down 11 Southern musical backroads. 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.

Salvation Road Track Listing


  1. Live to Rock
  2. Salvation Road
  3. Raise It Up
  4. Wake-up Call
  5. Show Me What You’re Workin’ With
  6. (feat. Teresa James)
  7. Dollars to Donuts
  8. Sorry Don’t Cut It
  9. Two Hearts
  10. The Dude Abides
  11. Soul Divided
  12. 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., a.k.a. 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.


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Brijana Bondy Staff Photo

Brijana can be found reading a book on a hammock while listening to her favorite tunes.

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