Catching Up With Cheley Tackett

Hopefully a lot of you will already be familiar with this incredible Nashville artist who we have featured several times recently.
When we last interviewed her she spoke of how she loves playing shows in the UK as we are “more attentive than US audiences” and that “lyrics seem to matter more“ over here, something that frequently draws her back to these shores.
Currently promoting her latest album “Buckeye” ( which includes several co-writes with her close friend Ashley McBryde, including this heartbreaker and fan favourite “My Best Dress”)

Cheley has announced a string of UK dates next month so what better time to catch up with her?

1. LH Hey Cheley, although you’re stateside physically right now I hope that your mind is at least in part here in the UK ahead of your upcoming tour! I know you are visit us on a regular basis but hopefully you’re still excited about these dates?
CT I’m very excited. The only town that I played on the last run that we’re revisiting on this run is Brighton (and on my last visit I played a house concert there while this time I’m playing a venue). Otherwise, these are all new areas and all new venues which means new ears to play my music to.

2. Are there venues you’re particularly anticipating playing?
CT I’ve heard great things about the audiences at Little Rabbit Barn and I’ve been told that the St. James Wine Vaults are fun to play. I’m looking forward to seeing the differences in the venues and the towns we’re visiting. That’s a big part of the experience for me, learning the contrasts of each room and each audience and adapting the sets and my performances to suit how each room feels.

3 LH How would you describe one of your acoustic shows to anyone wanting to know what to expect?
CT The acoustic shows versus a full band show lend themselves to a bit of storytelling. I can get into some of the reasons why the song was created in the first place or share a bit more about myself and some of my touring moments that tie into various songs. Also, at my acoustic shows, it’s just me and my guitar. It’s about as stripped down as it can get. Sometimes for the bigger shows and the larger stages, you have to be a bigger version of yourself. You have to fill that space sonically and with presence. In the listening rooms and smaller venues, with just a voice and a guitar, there’s no hiding behind or relying on a big sound. There’s no sharing of energy either with other folks on stage. It’s just you and your songs barebones. It’s a much more intimate and earthy experience.

4 LH You’ve been super busy (as usual it seems!) gigging and writing back home since your last UK trip, I particularly loved watching you rocking out with your band at a recent Nashville show (via a great live FB feed) ….is it too expensive a proposition for you to tour here with your musicians, or is that something we may get to experience at some point?
CT Yeah, right now, it’s hard as an independent artist to have it make sense financially to bring over the band. It’s more likely that if I play a band show at any point in the UK that it’ll be UK musicians backing me rather than flying over the band I play with here.

5 LH And I see that you’re playing a Valentine’s Day show in Nashville alongside Steff Mahan and Sarah Peacock, who is another fantastic artist we’ve featured in recent months. What’s the most romantic song you’ve ever written and was it for yourself or another artist?
CT I think without question the most romantic song I’ve written is “Save Yourself.” It’s a co-write with Steff Mahan & Lisa Carver. We originally wrote it for other artists to sing but it was getting such a good response at my shows that I ended up recording it. It’s on my “Whisper Me Slow” album released on Adroit Records a few years back.

6 LH Talking of writing, i was more than thrilled that since out last interview when you mentioned wanting to write with (among others) Erin Enderlin that you two did get together! How did that happen and what can you tell me about what you created ?
CT That co-write only happened because she read my last interview with you! Right after Belles and Gals posted that, Erin sent me a private Twitter message and basically said “let’s do it!” It’s funny because Erin and I have a ton of mutual friends, we just never landed in a write together. We ended up writing a song called “Second Pair of Shoes” based on a John Prine quote. We bonded over our mutual tendencies toward anxiety and kind of wrote the song around that. Given that it originated from a John Prine quote, we wrote it in a Prine-esque style. I really love the song. I think it’s more suited for Erin’s voice than mine but I’m proud of what we created. Erin posted a Facebook live video of her rendition.
LH Great to hear we played a part!!

7.LH Another song that you wrote recently and that we featured at the time was the tribute to your friend and co-writer Randall Clay who tragically passed a few months ago. Are you able to perform this one live or are your feelings about your loss still too raw ?
CT I’m just not there yet for playing it live. I barely even managed to get the work tape recorded. I had to write it though. It was nagging at me. Sometimes when that happens, other songs won’t show up until the one beating you on the head gets written. I had a cold too when I recorded the work tape. I wasn’t even sure that I was going to let anybody hear it. I emailed it to about 4 mutual close friends that Randall and I shared that also all happen to be songwriters. They suggested I go ahead and let it out into the world so the rest of our songwriting/music tribe could hear it. I may give it the recording it deserves at some point but, for now, the work tape, though not even a very good recording, seems to have captured the raw emotion that went into writing and singing it. Randall was a fixture here in Nashville. He permeated the songwriting community. There’s a line in the song that says “I can’t shake the hollow that was your heartbeat in this town.” Still can’t.
( LH you can discover a bit more about Randall Clay and find the link to Cheley’s tribute song here https://bellesandgals.com/2018/12/28/cheley-tackett-randall/ )

8.LH What are your plans after this UK tour?
CT After the UK, I have more shows stateside (Mobile, Baton Rouge, Knoxville, Asheville, St. Louis, & Phoenix in the month or two following this UK run), plenty of writing dates, and I might start working on a few new recordings. There’s something of a debate going on as to whether or not the next album will be a live album or whether I’m going back into the studio. It’s looking like I may get back to the UK again in September too followed by my first ever “Tackett to the Limit” in St. Croix USVI in October. I’m really looking forward to that. I’ve paired with Sandcastle on the Beach for a 4 day fan event. I’m playing a few places on the island and Sandcastle is offering a free night to my fans that book 3 nights by March 31. We’re hoping to grow it into an even bigger music event over the next few years.

LH Excited about the prospect of new music from you, and wow that beach event sounds particularly enticing, given that as i’m typing this up we have sub-zero temperatures here and snow on the ground!
Many thanks for your time, and I’ll see you here in a few weeks…..hopefully with some Spring weather to welcome you!

More information and ticket links to Cheley’s shows on both sides of the pond can be found here https://cheleytackett.com/tour
“ Buckeye” and Cheley’s back catalogue are available wherever you usually access your music!

Interview conducted by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)

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