Today we’d like to introduce you to Grady Don Sandlin.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Grady Don. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
We started Raised Right Men in late 2013, performing our first shows in January 2014. We began slowly, making monthly appearances at Dan’s Silver Leaf in Denton while we were growing our repertoire of country standards. Soon, we moved on to weekly residencies at Fred’s Texas Cafe and Magnolia Motor Lounge in Fort Worth. Having regular performances with a familiar audience gave us an opportunity to let the crowds inform our material. We were able to add material quickly, learning new songs every week.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We feel extremely blessed, overall. We’ve made some great fans and friends, played with some fantastic musicians, and shared the stage with some artists/bands we truly admire. After over 20 years in the music business, this is the most successful project I’ve ever been a part of.
Our biggest challenge has been keeping the band together. Justin “JC” Collins and I have been the only constant members of Raised Right Men. We’ve gone through one major lineup change, and feel great about the band we currently have.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Raised Right Men – what should we know?
We stay focused on the music. We pay attention to our audience and follow our own instincts and experience. We don’t often use a setlist when we perform. We try to tap into what is working between us and the audience on any given night. I think and hope we are known for playing great country music, that people can expect to come to dance, sing along, and enjoy themselves. We have a dedication to the music we love. I don’t know if that sets us apart from any other band, that is just the way we do it.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I would not be doing this project without my business partner and friend, Justin ‘JC’ Collins. It is as simple as that. He is crucial to our operation. He and I really depend on each other to keep things moving along.
Our bass guitar player, Clint Sturgeon, has added so much since joining us full time in 2017. He knows country music better than most people I’ve ever been around. He has a way of making the songs he sings sound like his own. He has really pushed JC and me in that way, to establish and cultivate our own personal identities within the music.
We added Randy Gray (lead guitar) and Robbie Saunders (steel guitar, mandolin, vocals) last year. They are both fantastic musicians and have been essential parts to our sound and direction moving forward. We got extremely lucky, coming across them when we did.
Bryan Beckman at Magnolia Motor Lounge was an early believer in us. When he gave us regular access to their stage and audience is really when we began to grow into the band we are now. He is among many bar owners and promoters who have believed in us and helped us along. We owe them all credit and appreciation. Bryan comes to mind as one of the first, and we won’t forget it.
As I mentioned before, we have made so many good friends through our music. It would be difficult to attempt to name them all and say what exactly their friendship has meant to us on this journey. Hopefully, they know who they are.
Photo by Zac Castillo