I got the chance to catch up with Riders Ford at the Landing Zone in Midwest City on Saturday October 24th. The guys invited me onto their bus for a chat before their show. Riders Ford has been around playing music since 2008. The band is made up of C.J Stayton, Dave Olberding, Shawn Garrison, Paul Sechrist, Clint Pope and Scott Hunt. They put out their first album, We rage On in 2010, followed by Shot In The Dark in 2014. They were a self-starting, self funded band who had to make their way through the trenches to make their music and get it heard. “We’ve never been cool enough to be friends with anybody so we’ve had to do it all on our own,” laughed frontman CJ Stayton. “We just unfortunately didn’t know any of the A-listers in the scene and so we had to scratch and claw our way, and just do what we do,” further explained drummer Shawn Garrison.
That hard work and dedication has paid off, they actually just had a show with Kevin Fowler the weekend before, so now they do get to rub elbows with those A-listers, at least from time to time. “We’re coming to the point where we get to meet a lot of guys that we’ve looked up to for so long, and so the cool part about it for me is that when you meet those guys you kind have a vision of who they are, and when you actually meet them and they are cool and are just really easy going guys it just makes you more comfortable. It leaves you more fulfilled when you meet these guys and they are what you hope they are,” said Garrison. “We’ve fell in love with the term; we’ve made the mid-time. We’re not the big time yet.” Stayton said with a chuckle. “We are four songs into Texas Radio though. We get more air play in Texas than we have anywhere, and we actually haven’t even played there yet,” said Garrison.
Riders ford does stay busy playing gigs all around Oklahoma and Kansas, pretty much every single weekend. One of the big differences between Riders Ford and many other typical bands out there making their way, is that the guys in this band all have full time day jobs as well, which are completely outside of the music business. “We’re different, we’re just different than any other band that’s out there. We’re like those weekend warriors that are actually successful and took it seriously. We’re able to live in both worlds at the same time, which a lot of people can’t,” explains Stayton.
Riders Ford has a very authentic country sound, not modern country, but true country before it got watered down with pop sounds. Stayton’s voice is deep with just the right amount of twang to deliver that genuine cowboy vibe. He also has the look and swagger of an outlaw cowboy that helps seal the deal. I think his personality really shone through that evening when he hopped off stage during a song to photobomb a couple of ladies on the dance floor taking pictures and videos of themselves dancing to the music. Bands that can interact and have fun with the audience like that just make shows more fun.
Riders Ford songs are straight forward and simple, which is what makes them seem genuine and heartfelt. They aren’t trying too hard, they are just playing great music with songs about living, loving and learning, which is what country music used to be. They have a great spectrum of songs from fun partying ones, to heartbroken love songs. The band played a new song that evening that will be on their upcoming album called “Second Half Life” about a divorced woman making another go at life. I swear they must have read my diary when they wrote it, their lyrics about dating again and the trials and tribulations included in it are spot on, and I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a huge amount of women that can relate. I have a feeling it’s going to go over very well when it’s released. It’s very well done.
The guys hope to get studio time scheduled in December, and are recording the new album at Castle Row Studios in Del City with Garrett Starks. “It’s our goal to get into the studio really quick and get it laid down. We have all of the stuff written, we just gotta get it down. If I had to put a date on it I would say mid 2016,” said Garrison. I’m looking forward to seeing what they guys do with the new album.
You can check out more about the band at their website at www.ridersford.com, as well as their various social media pages.