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Artist of the day: Truckstop Coffee




Pete Stein and Caleb James of Lake Worth alt-country foursome Truckstop Coffee have been playing together since 2003, when Stein was writing songs for "the one that got away" and they were both checking out bands around West Palm Beach.

Today they're familiar faces in Tampa Bay, bringing their whiskey-soaked, string-kissed rustic twang to venues like New World Brewery on a regular basis. You can catch them there on Saturday night, alongside Will Quinlan, the Most Beautiful Losers and Matt Woods. $7.

After the jump, get Julie Garisto's full profile of Truckstop Coffee ...

Fully caffeinated: Pete Stein, vocals, guitars, harmonica, keyboards, “booking/PR dirty work”; Caleb James, guitars, vocals, “posters and merch designs”; Larry Fulford, drums; and Bob Hershberger, bass, “engineered, mixed and mastered For Dear Life.” Stein answered questions for tbt*.

Homebase: Lake Worth, Fla.

Their sound: Ranges from easygoing to raucous with a Florida string-kissed, rustic twang.

Beginnings: “Caleb and I met in early 2003 and began playing guitar together. We were both coming in tired and hungover to the same job at the time from playing open mikes and checking out West Palm Beach-area bands every night. I was writing tons of songs for, I guess you could say, 'the one that got away,’ and really looking for something to throw myself into that was better than work or sitting around missing somebody. Caleb was kind of in the same situation, and when I heard him play guitar the first time, I kinda hatched a diabolical plan to get him out of his apartment and into a band situation.”

Why the band name? “We named the band Truckstop Coffee after a line in the song Way Down South: 'Let thoughts of me and truck stop coffee get you through the night.’ I had recently returned home from a 24-hour drive to the Akron, Ohio, airport during which the only thing that kept us going was frequent re-fueling stops at gas stations and truck stops. The song was an attempt to convince a certain co-pilot to make a return visit to Florida and was written before the band existed; kinda funny to think of the unintended ramifications of that song and trip.

“We also thought the name would give us the freedom to play a range of styles under the broader umbrella of Americana ... kind of how an old juke box in the corner of the cafe might range from Hank Williams to Tom Petty.”

On songwriting: It’s based on personal experience. “That first-person voice is often me. Ballad of Joel Carpenter (is) a true and really sad story about a guy who worked on the farm I grew up on. He was a gentle and kind man who had a run in with some vandals at his log cabin up on Old Rag Mountain in which an accidental shooting happened.

“I-3 is based on the politics of a proposed interstate that will connect Knoxville, Tenn., to Savannah, Ga. It’s written as an argument between the highway developers and a farmer whose family gravesite lies in the path of the new road. I got the idea looking on the Web for directions to Knoxville. It struck me on a personal level because my grandfather is buried on our old farm in Virginia, and I actually met someone once who told me that same thing happened to his family when I-87 was cut through upstate New York.”

Kris Kristofferson or Willie Nelson? “Kris Kristofferson. Sunday Morning Coming Down kinda sums up most of my life. I have a penchant for sad bastard music for some reason. But after hearing Willie’s Seven Spanish Angels for the first time while driving through New Mexico in November, I’m pretty sure I’d be just as giddy to work with him.”

Hear them: With Will Quinlan, the Most Beautiful Losers and Matt Woods, 9 p.m. Saturday at New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $7. (813) 248-4969.

-- Julie Garisto, tbt*

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:16pm]


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