Lucky Ned Pepper

By Bob Doerschuk

© 2013 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

If Westerns are your type of film, then the name Lucky Ned Pepper might ring a bell: It’s the bad guy in True Grit, a nasty, cantankerous character typical of those that prowled the plains and prairies. It’s also the name Josh Graham and Rick Russell chose for their new duo.

While there’s nothing particularly villainous about these two Bakersfield-based singers, they do infuse their music with some wide-open, big-sky flavor. The songs on their debut album, Get Lucky, are contemporary, each written by some of the best songwriters along Music Row. But they look at home in scuffed boots, jeans and farmland fashion. Their singing complements these images by evoking the courtliness, swagger and easy-going humor of cowboy life.

Graham and Russell have been around long enough to season their sound with experience. For 13 years they were members of the Smokin’ Armadillos. When the group split, they went their separate ways until 2005, when Russell invited Graham to join in on a solo project. They formalized their partnership as Lucky Ned Pepper in 2009 and began laying the tracks that led to Get Lucky.

The opener and first single, “I Remember the Music,” sets the stage. Written by Ashley Gorley and Wade Kirby, it’s a nostalgic but spirited recollection of good times and the music that accompanied them. From the celebratory “I Oughta Own This Bar” (Max T. Barnes and Kendell Marvel) to the lost-love requiem “Santa Fe” (Larry Bastian and Bo Allen), often with sweet additional harmonies from Joy Sampson, they paint a picture that’s rooted in memory yet as immediate as today.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

CD IN YOUR STEREO
RUSSELL: “Chris Young … Neon.” GRAHAM: “I don’t know. It’s broke!”

SONG YOU SING IN THE SHOWER
RUSSELL: “Lucky Ned Pepper songs!”

BOOK ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND
GRAHAM: “The Bible and Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life. Now, there are two extremes!”

MUSICAL HERO
GRAHAM: “Well, it sounds pretty cliché right now, but my first concert ever was George Strait, and I was hooked every since. It made me sick hearing that he’ll be done touring in 2014 … such an inspiration.” RUSSELL: “Garth Brooks.”

PET PEEVE
GRAHAM: “Anything anyone does before 7 AM.” RUSSELL: “Lying.”

ACTOR TO PORTRAY YOU IN A BIOPIC
GRAHAM: “Johnny Depp. OK, he doesn’t look anything like me, but how frickin’ cool would that be?!” RUSSELL: “Kurt Russell, because I’m related to him … not really!”

FAVORITE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION
GRAHAM: “I love to fly.” RUSSELL: “My pickup truck.”

LUCKY CHARM
RUSSELL: “My Oklahoma Sooners money clip.” GRAHAM: “I don’t believe in luck. God seems to have everything good taken care of already.”

SOMETHING WE’D NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU
RUSSELL: “I can break dance.” GRAHAM: “Guess.”

On the Web: LuckyNedPepper.com

On Twitter: @LuckyNedPepper

Source: Country Music Association

Lucky Ned Pepper Photo by Made U Look Photography / Provided by Country Music Association

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