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The Honky Tonk Outlaws Throw Down At The Underground

The Honky Tonk Outlaws Throw Down At The Underground

North Carolina Supergroup Brings A Boot Scootin’ Good Time

There’s no need for Charlotte music lovers to go all the way to Nashville to enjoy world class country music. North Carolina’s own Honky Tonk Outlaws brought a little bit of Music City to the Queen City this past Saturday evening with a roof raising outlaw party at The Underground on their  Summer Of The Outlaw Tour.

The country supergroup was founded by Nashville recording artist and North Carolina native Matt Dylan, along with drummer Richard Jackson and multi-instrumentalist Ray Edwards. Rounding out the lineup are guitarist Wayne Doss, bass guitarist Terry Miller, and newest member, keyboardist Julian Draughn. Each of the band members are veterans of the Southeast music scene, some working as serious studio musicians, and others as touring musicians with some of the biggest names in country including Randy Travis and Sammy Kershaw. The Honky Tonk Outlaws have also spent time on the road opening for the likes of Luke Combs and Sister Hazel.


The band is not afraid to acknowledge their roots, and in fact embraces them, playing blue collar American music with a emphasis on honky tonk and outlaw country. This past year has been a busy one for them playing at the opening game of the Carolina Thunderbirds hockey team and beginning the recording process for their very first CD. Two new singles, “Life Ain’t Fair” and “Drink Or Hide”, have already been released and are a definite precursor of great things to come.


This was my first time seeing the Honky Tonk Outlaws live and I was excited for an evening of top notch music and a fun time. There was no opening band so just shortly after eight the band took the stage to a warm welcome. The stage featured a large light up marquee with the HTO logo behind Richard Jackson’s drum kit who was set up on a small riser at the center rear of the stage. Julian Draughn had his keyboards set up stage right and Ray Edwards took a seat stage left at his lap steel guitar. Frontman Matt Dylan came out to the center mic with Wayne Doss and Terry Miller at his sides. Once the band kicked into their opening number, “Stay Here and Drink” – the party was on and it didn’t stop. The amount of talent on that small stage was incredible, and the sweet sounds of country filled the air. Dylan is an accomplished solo artist as well and a consummate showman. His down to earth vibe had him telling stories, making the audience laugh and feel right at home. He is probably best known for his hit single “Carolina Moonshine”, which was included on the soundtrack for the movie Red Dirt Rising and had NASCAR legend Junior Johnson featured in the music video. Dylan’s raspy vocals are full of soul and smooth as silk especially on ballads like “Bourbon and the Bible”.


Ray Edwards was a master on the lap steel guitar but when he picked up the banjo, he really shined. He is a two time world banjo champion and has performed at the Grand Ole Opry and on Hee Haw. Edwards has also toured with Randy Travis and has recently released a CD of his own on Pinecastle Records.


Dylan is not the only vocal talent in the band as Terry Miller took over the lead on several songs including “Liza Jane” and “The Chair” while Doss let the blues riffs rip and kept the chicken pickin’ going on guitar all evening long.  While the crowd got involved in a sing a-long for “Friends In Low Places”, Draughn kept the honky tonk piano going as he tickled the ivories while Jackson kept a steady pace behind the kit.


The Honky Tonk Outlaws also play a great mix of cover tunes, paying homage to the late, great Glen Campbell with “Southern Nights” and dedicating “Eastbound and Down” to the recently departed Burt Reynolds. One of the most touching moments of the evening occurred when Dylan told the tale of his time in Nashville and hearing a song that an unknown songwriter had written.


Matt insisted on meeting the writer, who someone referred to as just a bluegrass guy, because he knew that this songwriter had something special and was going to be a star. It turns out that bluegrass guy was none other than country superstar Chris Stapleton who wrote Dylan’s song “Down Here”. What a great story and what a terrific song! As people sang and danced and couples swayed together, slow dancing at the back of the arena, it was clear everyone was having a great time. That’s what the Honky Tonk Outlaws are all about, but of course, all good things must come to an end.


The next time you’re looking for excellent music and one hell of a good time, look no further than the Honky Tonk Outlaws. You can catch them later this month and early in October at the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem. Stay tuned to their website for details and more upcoming dates.



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