Rio Frio, by Rusty Reid is the type of song that can lift up your mood and get you out of your blues with no difficulty. That is why we wanted to get to know the man behind this dopamine dose of a song.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm a singer-songwriter originally from West Texas, but really came into my own as an artist during and after college in Houston. I spent some time in Nashville and Los Angeles before moving up to the beautiful Pacific Northwest near Seattle. After all these years I still can't quite figure out my "genre" (and neither can anyone else) because I love pop and folk and country and rock almost equally, and tend to mangle them altogether in my songs. Most, but not all, of my songs are guitar-oriented. These days I'm accompanied by a far-flung array of really outstanding musicians, from here in the Northwest to L.A. and Nashville, to Ireland and the UK and Germany and South America and India. Ah, the wonders of modern recording.
2. How did you guys meet and decide to sing together?
On "Rio Frio" I'm accompanied by my good buddy Steven Beasley, who plays most of the instruments, including the soulful guitars and accordion. On this one, I'm noodling on electric guitar. We met up in the Houston music scence, then I moved to L.A., then he moved to L.A. and we've been helping out each other all along the way. Steve is an outstanding singer-songwriter himself and an incredible multi-instrumentalist. Darin Watkins is on drums on this song. He is my go-to local drummer here in the Northwest, having played on many of my songs.
3. Is there a back story for Rio Frio? Where did the name come from?
For several years I had been trying to write a "rock opera" based around the history of Texas. I bashed out about ten songs or so before it fully dawned on me that none of them were really very good. I wrote one more song for the opera, and it was "Rio Frio." The name comes from the Frio (Cold, in Spanish) River in Texas, a very bucolic, popular little stream with campers and tubers these days. But 180 years ago or so, you wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere near this river. This song's place in the "opera" related to the period of the Texas Republic, a 10-year period after the Texas Revolution but before it joined the United States. The "Nueces Strip" was territory that both Texas and Mexico claimed as their own, but neither side dared try to police it... so it became a haven for outlaws, both Texan and Mexican. The Frio River is in this territory. In scant few words, the song paints an interesting picture. Ostensibly, the song pertains to a "cowboy" - probably, actually an outlaw - who seems to be mortally wounded - pining away for his sweetheart far away, whom he imagines is thinking about him. You don't run across that theme in songs very often. That was novel enough. But then, for some reason, I put the song in 3/4, waltz, time signature. Very strange for me. But that very signature spawned one of my best melodies. Even without knowing what it was originally all about, people seem to love this song, and, of course, I'm fond of it as well. Wanting to get this one out to the public was a big part of my effort to release this new album; "Bayou Line: Songs from Houston."
4. What inspires you in your music?
"Bayou Line" is a retrospective, re-recordings of my old Houston songs, so they represent something very different than my newer material. My songwriting these days tends to be philosophical, political and spiritual (not religious, mind you). I feel like I've lived enough and learned enough and experienced enough to have gained some insight and wisdom. I've always been a seeker, and now I'm reporting back what I discovered on my journey. I'd like to get my entire worldview stated in various songs. My inspiration for creating these songs is love for the world. I hope somebody finds some inspiration, or at least information in them that helps them understand, bond with and move toward that love for the world perspective. We have enough ignorance and division and discord and self-aggrandizement going on. What we need are more souls committed to the journey toward love.
5. Do you have any musical background or live performance experiences?
I can't actually remember a time when I was not fascinated by music. My mom's side of the family was quite musical. She had a big record collection and was a good singer. I had uncles and aunts and cousins who were very talented. I started piano lessons at about the age of eight or nine and continued that for several years before switching over mainly to guitar. I started playing out in public, solo on guitar, at about the age of 16. I was in a few bands along the way, but always came back to performing solo. I still do the occasional solo show. But really, I've dedicated most of my time and energy to recording. I now have a nice home studio setup, and can work with great players from around the world. It is very fun and satisfying.
6. Are there any projects or collaborations in the near future that you are excited about? Can you give us a sneak peek?
I'm finishing up promotion for my current album "Bayou Line." At the same time, I'm remixing my last album, "Head to Heart." I expect to re-release it early next year. I've actually just re-released back-to-back singles, "American Villain" and "The United States of Selfishness." I'll be jumping into promoting those two politically-charged songs in the next few weeks. Then I have another "retrospective" project coming along. Speaking of former bands, I'm going to release an album of recordings from The Unreasonables, one of my Houston groups. Then there is a project, almost finished, just needs mixing: it's an album comprised entirely of cover tunes. I never would have thought, but it's been a labor of love, and I'm anxious to get that one out. Finally, I have another couple of albums-worth of newer original songs that are also pretty much finished, just need a few touches. So the next few years are shaping up to be almost non-stop releases. I also hope to mix in a few solo shows here and there.
7. And finally, what advice would you give to our lisneters/aspiring artists?
Stay focused. Keep plugging. Don't be easily distracted or disappointed. Seek your authentic self. Be you, an original. Don't be a copycat. Don't take yourself too seriously. Don't forget to have fun. Align yourself with truth and virtue, not selfishness. The only one you really have to impress is yourself. If it's too easy to do that, you've got work to do.
You can check out Rusty Reid on his social media and listen to his amazing music on Spotify.