In the world of traveling musicians there are some we call “road warriors.” These are the ones that are on the road more often than they are home. (If they have a home other than the tour van.) They are perpetual travelers. Musicians like these are out there doing it the old way. They play dive bars, rodeos, hometown festivals, anywhere that pays. They are the kind to spend early morning hours curled up in the van in WalMart parking lots in little towns no one knows. They wake when the sun comes calling and hit the road again. Lorin Walker Madsen is a road warrior. At 32 years old he has been on the road half his life. The title of his latest album says it best, Madsen is a Slave of the Road.
Country music is based on a formula laid out by hall-of-fame songwriter Harlan Howard. This formula is “three chords and the truth.” Along with blues, jazz, and rock and roll, country music is quintessentially American. Along with the music comes an authentic lifestyle. This is the backbone of Madsen’s music. His latest release features songs of whiskey, travel, and adventure. His song Settle Down really resonated with me. Upon initial listen, I pressed repeat three times. In the song, Madsen sings to his newlywed wife with the sweet refrain, “I’m gonna try to settle down. I’ve got you just like Johnny he had June“—a reference to the famous country marriage between Johnny Cash and June Carter. He can’t promise her that he’ll always be physically right there with her, he’ll try, but there is always the call of the road.
In their live shows, Lorin Walker Madsen and his band “The Hustlers,” which relies on a rotating cast of musicians from all over the states, features Madsen on Teton acoustic guitar (by whom he is endorsed) and a bass drum. He is often joined by a fiddle player and a bass player. In whatever formation the band is in at the time, it’s always a great show. Mark Twain said, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness …” Madsen is a living example of this, he always has a smile on his face and is full of love for his life on the road. Though he plays outlaw country, Madsen is not the type to ever stick up a convenience store. He simply subscribes to the freedom of a non-conventional way of life. A life more transient.
Be sure to catch Madsen while he is living in Salt Lake City, you never know when he might take off to Montana, Texas, Canada, or some WalMart parking lot far away.