Gary Roadarmel is a hidden treasure. As the fiery guitarist and co-frontman for country-punk band Porter Hall Tennessee, Roadarmel spent the past decade delivering a ferocious blend of honky-tonk and punk rock music to audiences worldwide. He's part of a dying breed of guitarists who embrace unhinged fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants rock 'n' roll, where every show is different from the last and every show could be, well...your last.
Roadarmel grew up in Hagerstown, MD. His grandfather taught him the rudiments of traditional country and primitive gospel music, and as a child Roadarmel performed countless old gospel songs alongside his grandfather in church. Many of these songs re-emerged on PHT's third record entitled Satan on the Run (2009). During an on-air interview with Roadarmel, WSM 650's famous DJ, Bill Cody, mused with pleasure, "the gospel songs came to you honest." To be sure, Roadarmel's catalog of primitive gospel songs, alone (the origins of which are largely unknown), makes him a national treasure.
As a teenager, 60s and 70s-era garage punk crept into his soul and, to this day, remains a strong influence in Roadarmel's performances. The Holy Trinity for Roadarmel is Jesus, Jones, and Johnny Thunders--and each member of this holy trinity inhabits Roadarmel's creative drive--each figure emerges in one way or another during every performance. This entirely unique blend of traditional honky-tonk, punk, and primitive gospel merges in unpredictable ways. Once in Raleigh, NC during a PHT show in front of an audience of approximately 200 people, Roadarmel introduced "a Jesus song," as he often does. When an audience member booed, Roadarmel reacted fiercely, "You don't like Jesus? Well, then fuck you," immediately launching into the song "Satan on the Run." Roadarmel's unpredictable blend of honky-tonk swagger, holy-roller praise, and punk-rock destructiveness onstage continues to compel both fans and critics alike.
NPR's David Greenberger described PHT's debut record Welcome to Porter Hall Tennessee (2002) this way: "The songs on Welcome to Porter Hall Tennessee revisit the common themes of fractured relationships and dashed hopes as well as an unshakeable need for home and connection. Occasionally dark but always grippingly real, it is the mark of a strong songwriter to recast the familiar and make it seem honest and new. Porter Hall Tennessee has two such songwriters: Gary Roadarmel and Molly Conley."
Roadarmel's punked-up cover of Jim Carroll's "People Who Died" landed on Bloodshot Records' double-disc compilation record For A Decade of Sin: 11 Years of Bloodshot Records, and remains the benchmark version that has compelled so many bands since to cover the song.
As Porter Hall Tennessee disbanded in 2011, and in the same nature of all the true country outlaws, Gary Roadarmel left Nashville with nothing but the wind and a guitar on his back and a new solo acoustic album under his belt titled Yesterday Bitter Forgotten. A new calling to find a deeper spiritual inspiration. Now, newly rooted in the swamps of South Louisiana, Gary is combining his former roots of Appalachian bluegrass and Tennessee honky-tonk, with Louisiana Voodoo and Cajun. Adding just a twist of that 60's and 70's garage punk, The Parish Commissioners are now in session.
On February 5th, 2013, Gary released his first full length recording under The Parish Commissioners moniker titled Ecoute (Cajun French for “listen” - pronounced ay coo tay.) Roadarmel describes this record as a learning and growing experience of his entire musical journey. The outcome of Ecoute is a big gumbo of all of the music that has influenced Gary thus far. It tells a story of a man who as traveled the world, as well as his stalemate in Tennessee and broken relationships in music and marriage. Then as the second half of the album unfolds, Roadarmel is finding inner peace through his new found love and respect for his new home state of Louisiana. Ecoute is truly Gary Roadarmel's most ambitious recording to date. Laissez les bons temps rouler !