“It’s an account of what it’s like to step into our shoes for a day—six guys crammed inside a van living out their dreams,” says 49 Winchester singer/guitarist Isaac Gibson about “All I Need,” the straight-up hillbilly rocker whose video debuts here. “A lot of the stuff I write tends to be kind of introspective and personal. This is one of those tunes that’s just fun—a road anthem.”
And 49 Winchester has been hitting the road with a vengeance since COVID restrictions eased. For the Southern leg of their tour, the Russel County, Va., natives have more than 50 shows lined up through mid-August.
“It’s right in the heart of southwest Virginia,” says Gibson of Castlewood, the small town where he and bassist Chase Chafin formed 49 Winchester right after high school less than 10 years ago. “We’re geographically in the center of the Appalachian Mountains. The industry is basically none. It’s very rural and isolated.”
MAGNET caught up with 49 Winchester before its March 17 performance at Wille Nelson’s Luck Reunion in Spicewood, Texas. The band was inexplicably booked in the chapel of the transplanted Wild West town, where the capacity is less than 50 and the “one in, one out” policy ensured that at least triple that amount would never get in to see 49 Winchester. Some 35 miles away at this year’s South By Southwest Music conference, there were a few other opportunities to check out one of country’s most promising new outfits before the touring grind resumed just north of Houston.
In truth, “new” is a bit of a misnomer. Out May 13, Fortune Favors The Bold (New West) is actually 49 Winchester’s fourth studio album. But it’s the first time the band’s Southern-rock, alt-country and Appalachian-folk influences have found traction on such fertile common ground. If one were to draw comparisons, the Steel Woods come to mind, though 49 Winchester’s approach is less world-weary and Gibson’s velvety high end more vulnerable.
“Basically, our whole musical life has existed in this band,” says Gibson. “Our sound has changed as our musical influences have changed and as we’ve discovered more music. It’s just sort of landed in this sweet spot of hard-hitting, countrified rock ’n’ roll. This sound is home for us.”