There’s a section on contemporary bluegrass singer-songwriter Callie McCullough’s artist bio that reads, “…sound anchored by intimate ballads and McCullough’s gorgeous voice, whose Alison Krauss-worthy tone and Dolly Parton-sized beauty stand in contrast to her dry humor and larger-than-life personality.” Consider me sold.
And having listened to McCullough’s latest single, “After Midnight”, which is the title track of her upcoming EP of the same name, I can attest to the gorgeous voice and Krauss-worthy tone.
McCullough’s hypnotizing phrasing, endearing inflections, and lullaby-like vocals will make the coldest soul swoon. Not to mention the incredibly satisfying instrumental patterns accompanying, including a beautiful introductory accordion and fiddle that can conjure picturesque images of a mustachioed gondolier rowing you and your sweetheart along a Venetian canal at sunset.
Speaking of, her backing band includes members of the Grammy-winning bluegrass band Union Station and 3rd and Lindsley Monday night mainstay supergroup, The Time Jumpers. “After Midnight” is a track I could play over and over, and fall into McCullough’s alluring trance every time.
She was kind enough to answer some questions we had for her, so I’ll quit cyber-blabbing and let her take it away…
Who: Hey Friends! I’m Callie McCullough, and I’m a Singer/Songwriter based in Nashville. I was born and raised in Ontario, Canada, way out in the country by a very musical family. A beautiful little place called Stratford is my hometown, but Nashville has been home for about six years now.
What: I’m getting ready and very excited to release my new album and solo debut, After Midnight! We’ve been gradually releasing the first three singles: Five Dollar Pearls, Feathers and the title track After Midnight. The songs on this album really run the gamut of Bluegrass, Adult Contemporary, Easy Listening, Traditional Country, and Folk influences. The genre lines are a complete blur- we just wanted to make music we loved! We are very excited to send this music out into the world. It has been a long time coming and a passion project not just for me, but for my incredible producer Dustin Olyan, associate producer/co-writer Scotty Kipfer, and co-writer Ryan Sorestad. We built this vision together for an album that would be led by the songs and feeling we wanted them to convey, not by what was cookie-cutter and fitting on the radio.
When: The full six-song EP After Midnight premieres March 25th 2020, and officially releases on all digital platforms March 27th 2020!
About the release: The album has a pretty interesting story behind it. Dustin Olyan, Scotty Kipfer and I sat down and made a list of our favourite players and musical heroes: guys from The Time Jumpers and Union Station. We called them all up to come make a record, and the crazy part was they all said yes! Dustin is also a multi-instrumentalist genius, and took the songs that wanted a more intimate treatment and built them from the ground up himself, playing almost every instrument until they were magical. Recording this album, we were blending legendary players with our own fresh energy and vision, and I’m over the moon about how it turned out! Release wise we’ve got a big show planned in my hometown of Stratford. We’ll be announcing a release show in Nashville and tour dates through the Midwest very soon! We’ve got a couple cool TV performances, popping in to do some live on-air radio, and lot’s of chats with awesome folks like you- so all the things! We’ve also got a music video for After Midnight in the works!
What’s next: Once we are all finished with this release stuff, I really just want to get out there and play this music for as many people as possible. So just booking as many shows as we can, and traveling. I’d love to make it to the UK this fall!
Musical inspirations: I was really fortunate to be introduced to so many great artists as a kid. The top few in no order have to be: Pam Tillis, The Kendalls, Simon and Garfunkel, Carole King, Eva Cassidy, John Prine, Norah Jones, Fleetwood Mac, Gordon Lightfoot, and James Taylor.
Three records on a desert island: Carole King- Tapestry, Eva Cassidy- Songbird, Pam Tillis- Sweetheart’s Dance
Favorite food while on the road: I have very specific road “food” preferences, lol. Long drives are always accompanied by gas station purchases of: Arizona Green Tea Iced Tea, but I only like the one in a can. The bottle is a disappointment for some reason. A two-pack of Smores Pop Tarts, beef jerky, and either Salt and Vinegar Kettle chips or Cool Ranch flavoured Doritos. Airplane trips on the other hand require a triple cappuccino and a sausage egg and cheese breakfast sandwich at Starbucks. I really don’t think any of this is classified as “food.” I do also drink all the green juice and eat the salads- it’s a balancing act lol.
Song/artist you can’t stop listening to: Right now it is Don Williams “If Hollywood Don’t Need You.” I’m a nerd for all Don Williams, but have had that one on repeat this last week…
Favourite way to spend a Friday night: My favourite way to spend a Friday night is always out playing a show- and that happens a lot between road gigs and regular gigs 3-4 nights a week here in Nashville. But if I’m not out gigging, I’m most likely to be found in head to toe pyjamas acting like a ridiculous goof with friends over at my house.
Last movie or TV show you watched: In all honesty, I just watched My Girl, which is a movie I loved as a kid. Otherwise I’ve been pretty wrapped up watching politics as of late….
Dream show (venue, guest musicians, etc.): My dream show will always be opening for James Taylor…when and where it happens I’m flexible on….
What the rest of 2020 might have in store for Callie McCullough: Touring as much as possible for sure! I want to share this music with as many audiences as possible. I’ve also got a serious travel bug after being mostly stationary here in Nashville these past few years, so that’s a happy combo. I’m ready to get out there! I’m also really looking forward to getting back to writing some new songs. It feels like I’ve been in release mode for awhile now, which is awesome, but looking forward to having a bit more quiet time to create.
Closing words: First, I just want to thank you guys so much for taking the time out to chat with me about this album! When we started out making it, it was us saying we’re not going to wait for the Nashville system to notice us- we’re going to just get going and do this ourselves. These songs are my stories, mostly based on the past five years of life here in Nashville. I’m proud of the way we made this album: taking our time with it, and making sure every part of it felt true to the songs, and I’m proud of the people I made it with. I hope people will hear these songs and have those quiet moments of reflection and just feel honest things…