Originally from Birmingham, AL, Banditos is a group – more like a gang, actually – of six 20 somethings, nowadays operating out of Nashville, close to, and simultaneously very far away from, the gleaming towers and industry hustle of Lower Broad and Music Row.
With the rugged power of a flashy Super Chief locomotive, the Banditos’s self-titled debut album bodaciously appropriates elements of ’60s blues-fused acid rock, ZZ Top’s jangly boogie, garage punk scuzz a la Burger Records, the Drive-By Truckers’ yawp, the populist choogle of CCR, Slim Harpo’s hip shake baby groove, gut bucket Fat Possum hill country mojo and the Georgia Motherf**king Satellites. From backwoods bluegrass, to slinky nods to Muscle Shoals soul and unexpected bits of doo-wop sweetness, the Banditos recall many, but sound like no one but themselves.
The members of the band first met playing in various punk and rock ‘n’ roll projects around Birmingham at D.I.Y., all-ages venues. In 2010, singer/guitarist Corey Parsons and singer/banjo player Stephen Pierce began busking around town, and were soon asked to perform at their favorite local bar. Without a full band they invited friends Randy Wade (drums), Jeffrey Salter (guitar), and Mary Beth Richardson (vocals) to join them.
Salter and Wade studied together at music school learning classical/jazz techniques, while Richardson’s background was mostly singing in church choirs. After some apprehension from Richardson about taking the stage with an unrehearsed band, a last-minute trip to New Orleans with the group (which resulted in a stolen hotel Bible inscribed with the band’s lyrics) seemed to cure a case of the cold feet. The ensuing performance was raw and electric, and an ecstatic crowd response further cemented the members’ convictions to become a full band. The addition of bassist Danny Vines made the group complete.
The members soon moved into a house together in Birmingham and after repeated tours through Nashville decided to move the band there instead, where the music scene was bigger and more diverse. The sextet has since developed their unique and airtight sound, culminated through several years of enduring friendships and a roaddog touring schedule that has, at their count, numbered over 700 shows in the last three years.
Their selt-titled debut full-length album is layered with as much grime as it is with pinpoint songwriting and feverish technical savvy. Each song wafts new dynamics into a streamlined stylistic roots, punk and rock ‘n’ roll jet stream, the variations heard evidently through the vocal baton passing and wrenching harmonies of Parsons, Richardson, and Pierce. Each vocalist, as with each performer in the band, is given the spotlight during the course of the album’s 12 songs. And at its core, Banditos is a unified coalescence of six bright beams of light, a spiritual collaboration between friends with a singular musical vision.