Listen to China Plate
The Steelism tapes may have just as well been unearthed at 926 East McLemore Avenue—a relic from a not-so-forgotten past. Songs like “Mint Julep” and “9 to 5 Jive” would have made Atlantic and Stax record execs giddy, circa 1962. But Steelism, for all its vintage chops, is happening now. It’s the project of Jeremy Fetzer and Spencer Cullum, Jr., guitarists who share a classical education in Steve Cropper licks, ELO synthesizers, and a dog-eared copy of Bill Keith and Winnie Winston’s seminal Pedal Steel Guitar book.
Fetzer, an Ohio-born guitarist with a natural affinity for the Telecaster, and Cullum, Jr., a pedal steel-playing Brit from Essex, east of London, channel the sounds and ambiance of rock and roll’s gold-plated past on their debut EP, The Intoxicating Sounds of Pedal Steel & Guitar. The duo met in Nashville and was soon together on a European tour backing Nashville’s Caitlin Rose. Their early songs create a musician’s roadmap: the languid “Sète, France” was penned on the Mediterranean coast, while “Lewis & Clark” can be traced to a Bozeman, Montana motel. The EP moves from a strolling Sunday afternoon soundtrack to raunchy surf rock and pedal steel-talkbox homage to Pete Drake. On “9 to 5 Jive,” you can almost see the hip shaking girls from Duane Eddy’s “Rebel Rouser” video. Intoxicating, indeed.