the third installment to the Pure Grain discography “Out of the Storm” expands on their original acoustic country sound. Adding some edge with electric guitar, piano, B3 organ and most notably, new comer, Courtney Damico on backing vocals, the disc truly marks a turning point in the bands’ career. Singer/songwriter Chris (The Carolina Kid) Taber shines through with his southern hospitality and uncanny ability to pull you into each and every song. His guttural emotive vocal delivery never lets you down and is goose bump guaranteed. The bands songs are inspirational, true to life tales that everyone can feel.
Upon my first listen to the disc, one thing is apparent throughout. The sincerity of the bands performances and Taber’s songwriting are as real as it gets. The disc kicks off with the hard driving title track “Out of the Storm”. A country honky-tonk rocker by nature, this tune of hope to overcome adversity symbolizes the bands mindset on releasing this disc. “We truly feel in releasing this CD that we are emerging from the storm.” “We have really put our hearts into this thing from the beginning and one set back after another, we are finally getting this thing out,” says Taber. “
After the birth of his first son, The Carolina Kid had to take a break from the music business, and started driving 18 wheels for a living. “What is really cool about this disc is that most of these songs were written before I started driving. Yet, so many of them are about things that I realize now, are on every truckers mind,” Taber explains. The bluesy grind of the “Truckin’ Song” featuring Dave Barnes on slide guitar, speaks to the woes of the trucker lifestyle which is a theme carried through in the sweet, melodic, “When I’m Alone”, and the powerful “Farewell My Love”. “Two major things truck drivers deal with are being alone away from their families and saying goodbye when they leave on the road” said Taber.
“Out of the Storm” is not all about truck driving. On songs like “Soul Food”, “Kid n Funk Blues”, and “For a Friend”, the Carolina Kid and the rest of Pure Grain, (Dave Lacey, lead guitar and vocals, Brian DeBruler, drums and vocals, Michelle Damico on hand percussion, Artie Chaney on bass guitar, and Courtney Damico, backing vocals) show off their southern charm and cut loose on the funkier side leaning toward the sum of their influences, The Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker, Charlie Daniels, or a little James Brown. “Overflowin’” is a more traditional country ballad in the vain of George Jones, or Conway Twitty showcasing Taber’s sultry side. The atmospheric “Sea of Thoughts” hits you with powerful raw emotion and leaves you with exactly that (a sea of thoughts)…”Do it Again” adds a unique twist to the CD as it takes you on a seductive turn south of the border.
Closing out the CD is a previously unreleased raw version of the bands’ “Freedom Child”, paying homage to the men and women serving in the armed forces. This very powerful one mic recording captures the band completely acoustic and unedited as the song was being written...
Back in 2000, Greenville, SC native Chris Taber set out on a greyhound bus, for Nashville on his path to a successful music career. Young, homeless and scared Chris arrived in Nashville and found the city a little intimidating for a country boy. Carrying his guitar, a tent, and very little cash, he slept under the I-65 bridge near downtown. “The whole thing just felt wrong” said Taber. “So I decided to pack it up and take what money I had and try my luck playing for tourists in Myrtle Beach. I always wanted to go to the beach so the whole idea seemed good.” After arriving in Myrtle Beach, Chris found a job at the Dead Dog Saloon, cooking by day and performing for tips at night. During Bike Week a group of bikers from Cincinnati took a liking to Chris and his songs. One of them was a club owner who offered Chris a job as the house musician at his club in Cincinnati. “The bikers basically wanted to adopt me, and take me back with them to Cincinnati. I was a little scared to go to Cincinnati with complete strangers but they seemed sincere” says Taber.
Upon arriving in Cincinnati, the bikers kept their word and set Chris up with a place to stay and work. “My first experience on a real stage was in Cincy. I was introduced to a man named Dallas Moore, who got me up to play at one of his gigs. He gave me the name “The Carolina Kid” and as it turned out Dallas was a “Carolina Kid” himself”, said Chris. Through Dallas and playing at Stormy’s, Chris made friends with local guitar guru Dave Lacey, and began performing as an acoustic duo. After a year or so The Kid and Lacey decided to take things to the next level and hooked up with Lacey’s old friend, drummer/producer Brian DeBruler. This became the core of Pure Grain.
The trio put together a collection of songs penned by Taber that told the tale of his leaving home and coming to Cincinnati, entitled “No Regrets”. The disc was released on DeBruler’s SOL Records label and made its way onto the national radio charts. By the summer of 2003 the group was touring across the country and opening for the likes of Hank Williams Jr., Bone Pony, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt band. “As we played bigger shows we needed a bigger sound, so I switched to drumset and we added Michelle Damico on hand percussion to keep the original “No Regrets” vibe. It seemed like we were on our way” said DeBruler. However, without a big label behind them, there was a limit to what could get done.
Looking for a label home for their next release, the group began recording new material to shop to labels. Recently inspired by fan emails they received from soldiers serving in Afghanistan; the group penned the tune Freedom Child, and released an EP dedicated to the men and women of the military. The discs were sent in care packages to the troops. “We had intended to produce a full length CD to shop to labels… In late 2005 we had nearly finished what was to be our third CD release. We were all struggling to survive as a band and to continue to progress when Chris had his first son. We decided to take a break and let Chris get things worked out. Putting family first, he began driving a semi truck to make ends meet.” During his time in the truck Taber continued to write songs while on the road” DeBruler said. Pure Grain was on an indefinite hiatus.
In 2006, Damico and DeBruler continued to perform together and joined another Indiana band, Peppertown. In April 2008 they asked Chris if he would do a reunion show at their annual Concert Earth Environmental Fair. Chris agreed, and the show was a huge success. “I was addicted again”, says Taber. “So we booked a couple of shows and decided it was finally time to finish the disc we started in 2005.”