STILL REELING FROM A TRAGIC 2018, THE YOUNG FABLES RETURN TO BLOUNT FOR TWO BIG FUNDRAISERS

The Young Fables with manager and Hope Tree Entertainment owner Patryk Larney

The Young Fables with manager and Hope Tree Entertainment owner Patryk Larney

Written by Steve Wildsmith for The Daily Times

Written by Steve Wildsmith for The Daily Times

It’s hard, some days, for Laurel Wright to celebrate the excitement and joy of her band’s slowly evolving career, because there are a couple of empty seats where two of her biggest cheerleaders should be.

In some ways, the shock of losing her younger sister and her father within an eight-month span in 2018 still resonates. There are times when she wants to pick up the phone and call Ronnie — “Big Ron,” as her social media followers knew him — or make an impromptu road trip to Blount County to pick up her sister, Lindy.

And then she remembers they’re gone.

It is, in some ways, like walking past the door to a familiar room, filled with memories and keepsakes and the sound of laughter, and discovering that it’s barren. It’s all she can do, she told The Daily Times this week, to catch her breath. Time has helped, as has her mama, Lori, back home in Maryville, and while that empty room is still a place of sorrow, it gets a little easier to stay on her feet.

“I’m surprisingly OK at the moment,” Wright said recently. “When my sister died, my mom and dad kept saying, ‘One day at a time,’ because when my sister was in rehab, she would say that. Now, I always think about my mom saying that to me: ‘One day at a time,’ only now it’s one moment at a time. I like thinking that way — it’s not a bad day; it’s a bad moment.

“If I want to have a meltdown, it’s just a moment. I can do it and get it over with and move on, and then I’m good — or at least as good as I can be. I feel like The Young Fables still going at it — even with all this tragedy, we haven’t taken a break — has been really good for me, even though emotionally, it’s been very hard.”

Fortunately, she has two bandmates to help carry her when grief rolls over her at unexpected moments. Always by her side is Wes Lunsford, a Blount County native and East Tennessee guitar virtuoso who followed her to Nashville and went from her guitar player to her partner, musical and otherwise.

“It’s good to have someone like Wes, who’s stable,” Wright said with a laugh. “I’m a little crazy, my family’s crazy, and we’re a little all over the place and emotional. It’s so nice to have someone the opposite of me to keep me grounded.”

And then there’s Patryk Larney, the couple’s manager. He doesn’t get the credit that Wright and Lunsford do because his work takes place behind the scenes, but he’s always been, Wright said, the third member of the band, which returns to Blount County for a Friday night performance at the “Rock the Cradle” Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee fundraiser at The Shed, and April 20 for a New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center benefit at Barley’s Maryville.

“There would be no The Young Fables without Patryk,” she said.

“Even before he was our manager, he was our third person,” Lunsford added. “We ran everything by him. We would send song rewrites to him. We bounced every aspect of what we did off of him.”

Larney started out in music, playing in a band called Naked Underneath, with his brother, that landed a record deal. When 9/11 shook the nation, and especially New York, the deal fell through, however, and Larney worked for several years as a computer coordinator for Apple. After moving to Nashville, he started working with several Music City artists, including a group called Steel Union, which featured Broadway star Rachel Potter and dobro prodigy Josh Matheny. That band threw its hat into the NASH Next competition, an “American Idol”-style event sponsored by a nationwide radio conglomerate.

“The first year they did it, I was in my office one night, going through and listening to all 100 artists, looking for the dark horse act we had to worry about,” Larney said. “Me and my assistant stumbled on this crummy flip phone video of Laurel and Wes sitting on a bed, playing, and I thought, ‘What is this girl’s voice? This can’t be real! This has got to be studio mastered!’”

At that point, The Young Fables were a duo but playing under Wright’s name. Larney went to a show and sat in the back, ready to leave if the pair weren’t as impressive as the video. He ended up staying for the whole set, and while getting involved with them while they were competing against Steel Union would have been a conflict of interest, two weeks later they were cut, and they called Larney up.

“One of the first things I told her is, ‘Why go as Laurel Wright? I think Wes is as important to this thing as you are,’” Larney said. “He’s not just a guitar player; he’s an exceptional guitar player, so much so that if you lost him, your sound would change. I told them, ‘Laurel Wright is just a name that’s getting lost out there. Let’s come up with a duo name.’”

For years, Wright had been a solo performer, making waves locally as a teen singer-songwriter who quickly gained a fan base for her bold voice and authentic lyrics. She opened for big names (Randy Houser, Kix Brooks, The Band Perry), appeared twice on “American Idol” and won the 2012 Texaco Country Showdown competition, eventually hooking up with Lunsford. A product of Knoxville’s jazz scene, he was looking for a country gig after spending six months in China, and a friend introduced him to Wright.

They moved to Nashville to break in, fell in love and began to see their creation as a meeting of equals instead of a solo endeavor with a backing guitarist.

“I came up with the name The Young Fables and showed it to them, and that’s where our relationship started,” Larney said. “They’ve been good friends to me this whole time. When I went through a really bad breakup a couple of years ago, even before I was their manager, I had no place to go, and they were like, ‘We’re leaving for a West Coast tour. Move into our place, and we’ll house you until you figure this thing out.’

“And then when they asked me to manage them, that took everything to another level. I had pretty much written off management, but while I was licking my wounds after that breakup, I told them I would in the interim, because I needed something to focus on.”

The business arrangement, under the banner of Larney’s Hope Tree Entertainment, quickly became permanent, however, and today he’s is as much a part of the family as Lunsford is. He and Ronnie Wright struck up a fast friendship, and when Laurel and Lunsford were on stage, it was always Ronnie who watched them from stage-side with Larney.

“Any time we’d come out to Maryville to do big gigs, I’d always stay with Ronnie and Lori,” Larney said. “We would stay up until 3 a.m., just talking, and it was a relationship that I really valued. When she lost Lindy, it was really sad, and I told Laurel to take the time she needed, that we would get back to it when she was ready.”

The only downtime, however, was a show at the Wild Horse Saloon that was too soon. Her voice was gone, her nerves were ragged and her heart was still aching. Larney hustled up some songwriting friends and put together a replacement gig six hours before showtime.

“That was kind of my role, to pick up the pieces when she couldn’t be strong,” he said. “In the end, Laurel’s been stronger than you could ever imagine.”

When Ronnie died in September, it was a blow not just to his friendship, and not just to Laurel and Lori and Lunsford, but to the next Young Fables project. The song “Daddy’s Girl,” off of the second Young Fables album (“Old Songs,” released last year), was being turned into a documentary. Titled “The Fable of a Song,” it was the story of its inception, its creation and its impact, specifically on the man about whom it was written. Now, it’s become something else entirely. Slated for completion this summer and a debut in the fall, it’s about love and loss and the trajectory of a narrative that encompasses it all, and the band hopes to have a hometown screening at The Capitol Theatre in downtown Maryville.

Without a doubt, it will be an emotional night for the Wrights and for Lunsford. Pain and beauty make for strange companions, but life is the journey lived between those two emotions. That Wright has documented it so openly has won her more fans that she ever thought possible, and their support is another pillar upon which she leans when those moments wash over her, she said.

“I try to be as real as I can,” she said. “People look in on our relationship and say things — ‘Wes is so good for her; you’re so good for each other; you’ve been so strong through all of this.’ But it has been hard. The moment my sister died, standing in the hospital parking lot with my dad, I felt instantly that things had changed.

“It was like starting a new life. I never thought I would be different as a person, but then again, I don’t think anybody does until they go through something so tragic. People change, and if you don’t try to work through it, it’s not going to work.”

Added Lunsford: “As weird as it sounds, when stuff like this happens in your life, you become an adult automatically. When my dad died, it hit me the same way. You realize you’re feeling these intense things that only a grownup has to feel, and nothing’s ever the same.”

- Steve Wildsmith, The Daily Times


Steve Wildsmith was an editor and writer for The Daily Times for nearly 17 years; a recovering addict, he now works in media and marketing for Cornerstone of Recovery, a drug and alcohol treatment center in Blount County. Contact him at wildsmithsteve@gmail.com.

Award-winning freelance columnist and entertainment writer Steve Wildsmith is the former WeekEnd editor at The Daily Times.


WES LUNSFORD NAMED TO GRETSCH ARTIST FAMILY

Wesley Lunsford, one half of the award winning Modern Traditional Country duo The Young Fables, has landed an artist endorsement with GRETSCH guitars. The lefty guitarist joins the ranks of some pretty impressive players including Chet Atkins, Bo Diddly, Bono and Brian Setzer.

Says Lunsford of Gretsch, “Nothing sounds like a Gretsch. Everything that Gretsch touches has a signature unlike anything else. From the Filtertrons to the DynaSonics or the hollow bodies to the solid bodies, each one offers something new to the electric guitar. Aside from sounding so unique, they are really the coolest looking guitars. And let’s be honest that’s why many of us even started playing guitar!”

THE YOUNG FABLES NAMED TO ROLLING STONE TOP TEN LIST

Laurel Wright of The Young Fables has been singing “Crazy” by Patsy Cline for nearly her entire life. She began humming the tune as a little girl and has continuously modified new renditions of the tune throughout her career. When she met TYF partner and accomplished guitarist Wesley Lunsford, a special version emerged. So special in fact that ROLLING STONE has named the cover to their Top Ten List.

THE YOUNG FABLES KICK OFF PROJECT 615'S BUS SESSIONS

In a world where content is king, it seems everyone these days is producing a live music "Sessions" of some sort. Popular garment company Project 615 has gone the extra step to stand out from the crowd. The Music City trend setters have gutted an old VW van and sound proofed the interior to roll out "The Bus Sessions". Equipped with three interior cameras, the bus takes route on the streets of Nashville while popular artists take a back seat to perform live versions of their singles in front of the cameras. It may sound a little random, but conversation is everything, and the company's branding will surely benefit from the project.

Project 615 has trusted their maiden slot to buzzing Americana/Country duo The Young Fables Check it out! Stay tuned for future releases and discover some of the hottest acts in town. Heck, visit one of their locations and pick up a tee shirt while you're at it! 

STEEL UNION TO APPEAR AT THE COUNTRY

One of Nashville's most coveted trios, Steel Union, emerges from a brief hiatus to perform at THE COUNTRY with Brandon Ray. Vocalist Rachel Potter has not wasted any time getting back into the swing of things after giving birth to her first child in December of 2016. Heck, just last week the ex-Broadway sensation could be found working the red carpet at The Tony Awards. 

Now the trio, also featuring Donny Fallgatter and Josh Matheny, is back in action dusting the runway for their highly anticipated release. Tonight's showcase will take place at THE COUNTRY. Despite the establishment's name, the venue is one of Nashville's most genre-diverse homes.

Pull up your boots and hit the town for what will likely be a showcase that will remain on the tongues of Steel Union followers for a good time to come.

KENNY FOSTER NAMED TO ROLLING STONE'S TOP 10 COUNTRY ARTISTS YOU NEED TO KNOW

Chris Stapleton and Kenny Foster might just have a few things to mull over while sharing a beer at a local pub.

When Chris Stapleton won the triple crown at the 2015 CMA Awards, many country music fans around the world offered an understandable diagnosis, "That guy came out of NOWHERE!".  Well, that might be true, if you consider countless years of offering his voice to hundreds of Nashville's elite demo sessions and a rigorous tour schedule with The Steeldrivers, "nowhere".

The modern record industry is a landscape where many of the most promising voices in music are never fully recognized by the lucrative reach of mass media, but that doesn't mean they don't embody the same skill sets as the ones that are. Anyone on the ground floor of Nashville's songwriting community will tell you that the scene contains an army of talented individuals who fit the description to a T. 

One such soldier is prolific singer/songwriter, Kenny Foster. The Missouri-born talent moved to Nashville 14 years ago and has been beating the streets with his unique storytelling gift and strong, yet calming voice, ever since. Like Stapleton, Foster has put in more than his 10,000 hours, penning numerous songs with classes of new artists as well as a list of established names.

2017 marks the year for Kenny's long awaited arrival as the frontman of his own craft. Having written nearly 500 songs over the course of just a few years, Foster decided to embark on the daunting task of releasing his very own album, independently. The result is a praiseworthy collection of anthems entitled "Deep Cuts" that will immediately register with your heart as a body of mature work that deserves the attention it demands.

Find a quiet room, pop in those earbuds, and allow Kenny Foster to be your guide through a masterpiece of mantras and lessons-learned that feel hand-delivered by an artist just named to Rolling Stone's Top 10 Country Artists You Need to Know.

 

 

 

 

TYF RELEASES AMERICA'S MORNING SHOW PLAYLIST

The swelling buzz surrounding The Young Fables is only getting stronger. Now the duo has partnered with the countrywide radio show America's Morning Show with Ty, Kelly and Chuck to release a playlist featuring all of the duo's performances on the Ten Minute Tune segment. 

The media conglomerate regularly presents The Young Fables with a lofty challenge. THE RULES: The Young Fables arrive in the studio and the hosts of the show answer random calls from listeners who propose on-the-spot subjects for a song. The duo is given only TEN MINUTES to write and rehearse the song before returning to perform LIVE ON AIR to the entire country! We're positively confident you'll be blown away with the results.  

HTE WELCOMES ALAINA CROSS TO THE HOPE TREE COLLECTIVE

Every once in a long while you stumble across an artist with such innate talent that you become wrapped around their finger before even reaching the chorus of the first song. Well, consider us delightfully tangled. 

Hope Tree Entertainment is proud to welcome powerhouse singer, Alaina Cross to the Hope Tree Collective as she steps into the spotlight with her haunting electronic-infused pop. Cross’ latest single “6 FT” will surely answer the big-voice, pop-hungry cry that echoes deep in your soul.

Check out the official music video freshly released on VEVO, and you’ll immediately discover why we are absolutely thrilled to call her one of our own.

 
 

TYF RELEASE PRINCE TRIBUTE TO CRITICAL ACCLAIM

The Young Fables extended their streak of front page coverage from The Boot last week with their latest social content release. This time the duo celebrated the anniversary of Prince's passing with a special cover of the icon's mega-hit ballad "Purple Rain".

For many, the video was the first significant online peek at Wes Lunsford's vocal and lead guitar efforts. The seven and a half minute rendition provides Lunsford the opportunity to spread his wings on his signature Telecaster and expose the chops he has been hiding. The extended guitar solo, chockfull of the song's familiar melody lines, can engage even the most novel of guitar fans with an almost acrobatic display of fretwork. Observing all the while is Laurel Wright with eyes of admiration. The duo's rendition is Lunsford-centric, but hardly void of the sweet bedding vocals of Wright to which fans of The Young Fables have grown accustomed.

The performance was captured by producer Brett Ryan Stewart at the Sound Shelter in Franklin, TN and aided by an impressive rhythm section composed of Jamie Rogan (drums/percussion) and Brad Shapiro (bass). 

Video production and direction was handled by Patryk Larney for Hope Tree Entertainment.

ALICIA MICHILLI ANNOUNCES TUB TALK

"Tub Talk" is the merging brainchild of Hope Tree Entertainment founder and CEO, Patryk Larney, and America's Got Talent season 10 finalist Alicia Michilli.

The short-form online vlog will deliver a series of interviews with independent artists in the curious setting of a claw-foot bathtub. Alicia, clad in swimwear, intends to leverage her bubbly personality to infuse humor and an interest in Music City's artist community with just a drop of sex appeal.

Click the video above for a sneak peek at the fun! 

THE YOUNG FABLES RELEASE "COMPLETELY" ON CMT

The Young Fables have partnered with CMT to deliver the exclusive premiere of their latest official music video “Completely”. Filmed and produced in Nashville, TN by Hope Tree Entertainment, the video highlights the powerful patience of true love.

Crooning “I’m waiting / I know you’re chasing / Something that you don’t know / I can be impatient / But, Baby / You’re just one thing I won’t let go / No rush / This is right where I’ll be / Until you love me completely”, singer Laurel Wright strolls amidst the hustle and bustle of Broadway. Eyes fixed on the camera and seemingly disinterested in the swirling celebration around her, Laurel displays focus, while counterpart vocalist and guitarist Wesley Lunsford observes the distractions at hand. Eventually, the two musicians meet one another in the middle (fittingly at the doorstep of Tootsies Orchid Lounge - site of an early and noteworthy collaboration from the duo) culminating in a romantic and intimate moment, chock full of circling camera edits and the trade of an authentic gaze fit for Disney.

Leading actress Cassie McCown, kicks off the video’s storyline when she discovers the magical setting of Goorin Bros hat shop, while window-shopping in the neighborhood. Playing on the age old idiom “trying on all the hats”, Cassie auditions the vast collection of headwear, frustrated with the fruitless and uninspiring results. It is only when she ultimately discovers the comfortable, yet misplaced, news-boy hat of the leading actor, does she experience her “Goldilocks” moment. The verse of the video bares witness to the inner struggles of leading actor Gabriel Hooker, as he tends to the speakeasy bar AMARI, donning the grey cap. Drawing strong parallels to the lyrical message, Cassie reluctantly sets down the champion hat with a smile and turns fate over to the hands of the universe.

The treatment clearly illustrates the tumultuous nature of unrequited love and the difficult lesson that "timing" may be the most significant ingredient in the genesis of a potential relationship.

Directed by Patryk Larney (Hope Tree Entertainment) and captured by DP Stephen Byrum of Youngblood Films, the video seems to jump off the screen with fresh imagery and thought provoking substance.

Hair and Makeup was provided by Chrissy Yoder of I Can Make You Blush and wardrobe was carefully curated by celebrity stylist Payton Dale of The Payton Project. Wesley Lunsford wears an antique western bow tie laced with rhinestones from a classic cowboy era. Laurel Wright’s dress, originally designed for Lady GaGa’s “Joanne” tour reflects a classic country style while airing a modern flair with sheer sleeves.

MORGAN CLARK LAUNCHES NEW WEB/BRAND/LOGO

Look out Nashville, here comes New Hampshire native, Morgan Clark ! 

Morgan plans to release her long awaited self-titled debut EP, April 22nd at THE CITY WINERY in Music City, USA. The Nashville release will feature five studio recorded efforts from the songwriting bank of a unique siren whose style is as distinct as her magnetic demeanor. Don't be surprised if you catch yourself helplessly humming the catchy hooks of her earthy-pop project. 

Hope Tree Entertainment is more than happy to welcome Morgan Clark to the ranks of the Artist Collective.