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Summar tosses horseshoes, hand grenades

By Brett Leigh Dicks, November 2006

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Just like other artists interpreting his compositions keeps his songs fresh, Summar feels it is also important to keep his own sound unsullied. In so doing, he ventured into the studio for his latest recording with a different band of musicians to those who contributed to the first self-titled New Row Mob recording, And the names that grace the credits this time around will certainly have people paying some close attention to the album.

Joining Summar across the course of the 11 compositions are Nashville luminaries the caliber of Raul Malo and Brooks & Dunn steel guitarist Gary Morse, Add to this a rhythm section featuring former Ozark Mountain Daredevil Michael "Supe" Granda and Dave Kennedy from the Cactus Brothers and Georgia Satellite Dan Baird wielding guitar, and you start to get sense of the enthused dynamics from which Summar's new release is shaped.

"Most of the records here in town get made over and over again by the same six or seven guys," offers Summar.

"So, to get these characters together to make an album is what drove the personality of this record. I make a record thinking that I am going to take as many of these guys out on the road as I can. I want people who I know can mix it up in both the studio and on the road, and there are just a handful of those guys, Things happen, and the music changes. So, if you're lucky enough to make a couple of records in your life, then you're a lucky son of a gun. I know that much."

Mixing things up on the album wasn't only confined to the execution of Summar's own material either, as it characterized their sense of interpretation as well. For lurking amongst the 10 Summar penned compositions is a rather surprising cover.

Surprising not in the sense of its choice, but rather in its schizophrenic presentation. In serving up an explosive rendition of Braddock and Putnam's classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today," one quickly ponders what the reaction to the George Jones staple will be.

"We didn't want to record that one because I felt it was just a live thing," explains Summar.

But Rand Bishop - the album's producer - forced his hand a little with that song.

"It's always raised an eyebrow or two. I have noticed that when we do it live the kids just love it, and we'll get old people off the dance floor who are just floored when we go into it, but they end up getting the joke."

As fate should have it, Summar's latest album has ties to the same publishing company that looks after some of Bobby Braddock's publishing interests, Thanks to one of the company's music pluggers (staffers who suggest songs to artists to record), "Horseshoes & Hand Grenades" found its way into the hands of Braddock himself and, while recently visiting the Sony office to drop off newly pressed copies of his album, the plugger in question coyly invited Summar into his office.

"He leaned over to his answering machine and hit play, and it was Bobby Braddock," enthuses Summar, "I was shaking when I heard his voice. He said 'hey this is Braddock, and I was just listening to that new Trent Summar & The New Row Mob song and nearly ran off the damn road, That's the second best version of that song that's ever been recorded. Next to George Jones, that's my favorite version'. I was floored, So, if you're gonna pick on a song, it pays to go to the top."

Having spent 10 years in the services of Hank Flamingo, the band's dissolution in the late nineties gave rise to Trent Summar & The New Row Mob. But whether fronting a band or serving up cuts for others, Summar has always kept it simple and real. A reflection of his determination to remain grounded.

"I worked a straight job for eight years and played in the band at night," offers Summar, "We were lucky enough to end up getting a major label record deal, and it all just sort of found me I guess. I could have taken some different paths in life, but this how it worked out, And, like someone once said, I have been quitting everyday for the past 20 years! Music is definitely in me. I just love to play and to write songs and to sing. I love all of it."

And he loves his home town too, For everything Nashville has become in terms of corporate gentrification, it is still a city filled with genuine people and real experiences.

While the business side of music might at times become all consuming, there are seemingly plenty of other distractions and compensations not too far from hand, For Trent Summer, it is all just part and parcel of the business of being in Nashville.

"Nashville is the drinking town with the music problem," jokes Summar, "I have a bunch of buddies who are starting to make something of their lives and aren't into bars as much anymore, and I am starting to worry about them, There's something to do here every night of the week, And, being a musician, a lot of it you can write off too, There were three number one parties yesterday for the same song - The Wreckers' song - and I had friends who went to all three parties. That's Nashville for you."

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