Muscadine Bloodline know their fans have some expectations of the duo’s live shows. There are certain crowd-pleasing numbers they don’t dare omit.
“We have some diehards we’ve built over the last few years,” lead guitarist and vocalist Gary Stanton says. “If we don’t play ‘Porch Swing Angel’ at the end of the night, people are gonna riot.”
While that beloved 2016 single will undoubtedly make the set list, the duo of Stanton and singer-guitarist Charlie Muncaster still have some time to figure out the rest. Their Countryband Contraband Tour, which was announced Monday morning, will keep them busy through most of summer in venues like Knoxville’s Bijou Theatre and Chicago’s popular Joe’s Bar. It also comes after a rare break from the road, partially due to the pandemic and partially a conscious decision on their part, during which the duo got to focus on recording and spend time at home.
“Our motto’s been: create the demand, build the demand,” Muncaster says. “It’s amazing what happens when you say ‘no’ to some shows and stay out of people’s faces for a little while — they really start to miss you and there’s a lot of excitement that can be brought on the next time you go out.”
When they return to the road on June 3 in Phenix City, Alabama, Muscadine Bloodline will have plenty of new material to go along with the fan favorites. They released their latest album Dispatch to 16th Ave. in February and the project represents Muncaster and Stanton’s decision to focus on their classic country influences and not worry too much about what might work on radio.
“We’ve had an identity crisis of who we are and how we want to be represented,” Stanton says. “We kept going back to the stuff we love and what we like to do instead of that juxtaposition of being in Nashville, like, ‘Does this fit in a format?’ We were like, ‘We’re an independent band’ — let’s go with the mindset of, we just want to do this how we want to do this. This was the first record we’ve really done that. It was a stepping out, leap of faith.”
Dispatch to 16th Ave. stays true to that mindset, ranging from the blistering honky-tonk of “Dyin’ for a Livin’” — from which the new tour derives its name — to the stone-country balladry of “No, Pedal Steel.” Muncaster and Stanton’s signature tight harmonies are accented by knotty, twangy bursts of electric guitar, and the nine songs play like a continuous whole with outros and intros that bleed together.
“It was like, this would be cool if people consumed it as a record,” Stanton says. “It’s the opposite of what everyone tells you to do, business-wise. It’s not the smartest decision with everyone’s attention spans being five seconds. Like, let’s give them a record that’s like dropping a needle and letting it go.”
The jury’s still out on whether they’ll just play the album straight through on their summer tour, but they’re considering it.
“We’ve had the same conversation,” Muncaster says. “We’ve love to play the record front to back. I’m not a hundred percent decided on that yet.”
But at just over 30 minutes, the entirey of Dispatch to 16th Ave. wouldn’t eat up much of their set time — which would still leave plenty of room for “Porch Swing Angel.”
Countryband Contraband Tour dates:
June 3 – Phenix City, AL @ Phenix City Amphitheater
June 4 – Glencoe, AL @ Bash in the Band (Festival date)
June 8 – Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom
June 9 – Cincinnati, OH @ Riverfront Live
June 10 – Knoxville, TN @ Bijou Theatre
June 11 – Wilkesboro, NC @ Call Family Distillery (Festival date)
June 16 – Dallas, TX @ South Side Music Hall
June 17 – Spring, TX @ Rowdy’s
June 18 – Stonewall, TX @ Stonewall Peach Jamboree (Festival date)
June 23 – Wichita, KS @ TempleLive
June 25 – Columbiana, AL @ Liberty Day Festival (Festival date)
July 6 – Fort Loramie, OH @ Saloon Stage
July 7 – Detroit, MI @ El Club
July 8 – Indianapolis, IN @ the Hi-Fi Annex
July 9 – Chicago, IL @ Joe’s Bar
July 12 – Albion, NE @ Boone County Fairgrounds (Festival date)
July 21 – Asheville, NC @ Salvage Station
July 22 – Chattanooga, TN @ the Signal
July 23 – Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre
Aug. 4 – High Point, NC @ Ziggy’s
Aug. 5 – Isle of Palms, SC @ the Windjammer