Cooder Graw

Playing a lively breed of Texas-style country music with a rock & roll swagger, self-described "loud country" band Cooder Graw were formed in Amarillo, Texas, in 1998. Originally known as Coup de Grâce, the band soon learned another group was already using that name, and they opted to switch to a phonetic variation with Texas feel. The band's original lineup featured Matt Martindale (vocals/acoustic guitar), Kelly Turner (guitar), Paul Baker (bass), Joe Ammons (drums), and Jim Whisenhut (pedal steel guitar). The members of Cooder Graw stepped into the music biz a bit later than usual; the members' ages ranged from the late thirties through early fifties, and lead singer and main songwriter Martindale was the assistant district attorney of Gray County, Texas before leaving to pursue music full-time. Cooder Graw quickly earned a loyal local fan base and they were named "Best New Band of the Year" by Dallas radio station KLIF, and won "Band of the Year" and "New Artist of the Year" honors from the Americana music website Rockzillaworld, which led to opening shows for such renowned country artists as Willie Nelson and Alabama. 2000 saw the band release their self-titled debut, produced by Ray Benson (a member of fellow country outfit Asleep at the Wheel) and Hayden Nicholas (a guitarist and songwriter who penned nine chart-topping hits for Clint Black). In January of 2001, Cooder Graw issued the 13-track live album Segundo, which mixed previously unrecorded tunes with renditions of favorites from their debut, and by the end of the year, they'd released a fresh studio set, Shifting Gears. Another concert set, Live at Billy Bob's Texas, was issued in 2002, and 2004 saw the band release another studio album, Wake Up. In 2006, the hard-working Cooder Graw announced they were breaking up, and they placed a farewell concert in Fort Worth on New Year's Eve. Martindale pursued a low-key solo career, but in 2012, Cooder Graw booked a well-received reunion tour, and soon the group was back in business with a new lineup, featuring original members Martindale, Baker, and Turner, and new recruits Carmen Acciaioli (fiddle and mandolin), Danny Crelin (pedal steel guitar), and Kelly Test (drums). In 2016, the new Cooder Graw released a six-song EP, Love to Live By, which featured two singles that fared well in Texas, "Heart of Breaking Up" and the title tune. ~ Greg Prato

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