"There's a new guy on the radio that's becoming quite a hit/ they play his new song twice an hour until you get sick of it/ well he makes a splash, then comes a crash, as he just fades away." - Every Honky Tonkin' Hero Has His Day - Todd Fritsch-Doug Deforest.

Texan troubadour Todd Fritsch has ignited his passion for the roots of his genre with a little help from mentors diverse as Gary P Nunn and Eddy Raven.

So it's no surprise he hooks up with those heroes on his second independent album Sawdust on Nashville's Diamond Music featuring 17 songs embracing the rich depth of the genre.

Fritsch, just 26, delivers his stone country with a swagger on two memorable social comment tunes penned with his producer Doug Deforest.

Every Honky Tonkin' Hero (Has His Day) and If You Don't Like Country (Time To Leave) are chopped from the same tree that produced the late Doug Sahm's satirical song Oh No, Not Another One on his 2000 disc The Return Of Wayne Douglas.

And, of course, Tommy Alverson song Purty Boys from his 1993 disc Live At Ozona with his band Boot Hill.

Nunn is the perfect partner for Todd who lives on the Fritsch Cattle Company Ranch near tiny Texas town, Willow Springs.

Gary P did his time in the beer, whiskey and wine mines as pianist for The Lost Gonzo Band who cut their own albums after a long stint as the backing band for transplanted upstate New Yorker Jerry Jeff Walker.

That was the seventies outlaw era that prompted the Jan Reid book The Improbable Rise Of Redneck Rock.

Some of the characters in the book have ascended to honky tonk heaven but not Nunn classic London Homesick Blues - theme song for famed Austin City Limits TV show that has produced a myriad of live concert discs and DVDS.

But it's more the music of Nunn's latter day Sons Of The Bunkhouse Band that have fuelled 11 albums and influenced Fritsch.

"Gary and I have been friends for the last few years and, you know, we had a lot of mutual friends we finally got to meet," Fritsch revealed in a recent interview.

"Then he came to my show and it was just great and he loves what I do, he likes I'm traditional. He's a cowboy guy, I am too and we get along well about everything. He's a guy who's just a legend who's been so open to me. Whenever I go to a show he wants me to get up and do tunes with him and we party together and have a good time. So I'm just really honoured that he would do it for me. It meant a whole lot to me. He is Texas music, whether people know it or not. He's been one of those guys from the Lost Gonzo Band years ago, he knows what's going on."

Nunn, whose 17-year-old son, Julian, recently graduated from Eufaula High School in Oklahoma, has moved to Marble Falls, Texas, with his wife, Ruthie, after almost two decades living on their 480-acre Okie cattle ranch.

Nunn, one time husband of country singer Karen Brooks, grew up at Brownfield near Lubbock and has returned south of the Red River to reduce travel to his many gigs.


"Don't ask for me for P-Diddy, Snoop Dog or Dr Dre/ I'm 100 % country and I plan to stay that way/ if you don't like drinkin' beer our of a longneck bottle/ if you don't like two steppin' around the dance floor at full throttle/ and if when we play a cheatin' song there ain't tears on your sleeve." - If You Don't Like Country (Time To Leave) - Todd Fritsch-Doug Deforest.

Fritsch's other defiant country anthem is highly reminiscent of the David Allan Coe tune If That Ain't Country (I'll Kiss Your Arse.)

The Coe song appeared on his 1977 album Rides Again - it has been re-released with 1976 disc Long Haired Redneck as a double CD in Coe's ever growing Bear Family catalogue from his CBS era.

Fritsch says his song is a crowd magnet when he performs it live.

"It was a line I threw out to the crowd one night," Fritsch recalled.

'And I realised, 'Hey, this really is how I feel.' So Doug helped me put it together, and even though it's a little more 'Bocephus' and a little less 'Waylon-ish,' than we'd planned, it's become a big song for us live. We meant the gong in the Waylon type thing. And we didn't cut it as that tempo, you know, we could have squeezed a little more but just, you know, it was meant to be more of an in-your-face type song. It's been our show opener here for a pretty good while."

Fritsch name checks Nunn, Raven, Merle Haggard, Charley Pride and the late Bob Wills, Lefty Frizzell and Waylon in his song.


"There's a watering hole on the other side of town/ I can sit at the bar and shoot all my problems down/ and as gold rushes through my veins/ I try to smile and hide the pain." - Tequila Tells - Eddy Raven-Frankie Myers.

Fritsch also enlisted another mentor Eddy Raven for a duet on the Raven-Frank Myers song Tequila Tells.

Raven, born Edward Garvin Futch in the bayou country of Lafayette, Louisiana, on August 19, 1944, appears in the video for What's Wrong With Me - the single from the album.
Raven, one of nine children, worked as a DJ on WHAB in Georgia before writing a sixties hit for Bobby Charles.

He then moved to Nashville in the seventies where his prolific pen landed him diverse covers by major artists before topping charts with his own versions of his songs.

"Eddy Raven is a guy that I hooked up with because of the first album," Fritsch says.
"We did the cover of his hit I Got Mexico. And his office had got it and listened to it and Eddy had wanted to meet me and so I went to Nashville and I went to dinner with him while I was in town and we hit it off. He pitched me some songs and it was a song he wrote with Frank Myers. Eddy has been wonderful to me. A guy - he gave me his number said call him whenever and he was in my video and just too good of a guy. Another guy, you know, how many number one hits and just willing to help a young guy out means more to me than anything."

Raven appears in the video for radio friendly Andre Boudreau penned single What's Wrong With Me - the album entrée song aimed squarely at radio.


Fritsch has bittersweet memories of the writing of A Walk To Remember - one of two songs on the album, penned with close friend Randy Sarver.

He started the song with Sarver, who became ill during its writing, and died before it was finished.

"I was devastated," he recalled.

"But Randy never let go of this song, and right before he died, he finished and demoed the last verse so that I'd have it. I re-worked the song with the help of Doug Deforest and Rick Stancil. I knew I had to put it on this album; it's a gift that will always be special to me."

The other Fritsch-Deforest-Sarver song is positive love song First Date (For The Last Time).

Equally evocative is western standard Little Joe The Wrangler that scored airplay here for Red Steagall before and after his 1977 tour.

This version is a half-spoken tribute to the life of Little Joe - an unlikely cowboy and the cattlemen who befriend him.

"No one writes songs like this anymore," Fritsch says.

"But that lifestyle is part of my heritage and the history of cowboy music is something I won't let go."


"But the wheels of music city turn way too slow/ where patience is a virtue it's some times hard to learn/ for now she's waiting on tables, I'm waiting on the tables to turn/ I'm up when she's down, when I'm down she picks me up/ tag teaming troubles when the going gets tough." - Tables - Bo Riddle.

Fritsch also examines the flip side of belated fame in the Bo Riddle song Tables - one of the sleepers on this disc.

He hits a familiar chord when he details struggles of a singer and his biggest supporter - the waitress who returns each night.

They chase their collective dreams in tandem with faith driving them to hang in.

It's a sibling of sorts of Fritsch-Deforest collaboration on Life's A Circle - a reflection of travels from youth, to old age, through death to the birth of a new life, replete with a mandolin coating.

Equally powerful is Todd's dynamic delivery of Aaron Schertz-Jeff Batson-Thom Shepherd tune The Rock that has its embryo in a church in Savannah in the spring of 1844.

Fritsch connects when his rich baritone praises the longevity of the church - the joys, confessions, trials and tribulations of its people - from the Civil War to the present.

He also ensured there is plenty of Texan swing on Sawdust - especially on their co-write with Joe Bob Barnhill on All That's Left Is You.

The song, a throwback to the forties, reeks of the rich Texas dancehall past and sits well with Barnhill's other contribution - Five Mornings Down.

So does Todd's treatment of the Donny Kees tune Guilty Conscience whose melody is a sibling of sorts of 1990 Joe Diffie hit If The Devil Danced In Empty Pockets, penned by Kim Williams.

Fritsch covers all bases with his revamp of Billy Yates-Will Nance tune No Part Of - an uptempo dance tune, replete with country staples of lying, cheating and drinking.

They balance that with optimism of So This Is Love.

Hopefully, Nu Country TV exposure will entice the singer to follow his two European tours with an Australian visit.

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