Hopefully a lot of you will be familiar with this hugely talented Ohio-born artist whose 2018 album “Buckeye” received a five star review here last year
Cheley relocated to Nashville to pursue her musical career and has never looked back, having independently released several albums and EP’s, co-writing with some of music city’s best and touring stateside where she has amassed a loyal and growing fanbase.
Fortunately for her UK fans she is a frequent visitor to our shores, and having seen her perform here several times I can highly recommend you catching one of her shows if you get the chance.
I took the opportunity to chat to Cheley on her most recent ( all too brief) UK tour, before she headed to the continent to open for her great friend and frequent collaborator Ashley McBryde …..I hope you enjoy the interview!
1. LH Hi Cheley and belated birthday greetings for a few weeks ago! I gather you celebrated in great style by playing a show in Nashville that was recorded for a live album! Can you tell me a bit about the thinking behind that please?
CT Thank you! Yeah I realised that I pretty much only play with a band when i’m in Nashville, as an independent artist I don’t always have that luxury and when I’m out and about it’s generally just me and my guitar . And I realised that although i’ve got five or so recordings none of them reflected what I do the most! I’ve been asked when I’ve been out on tour “ do you have anything that’s just you and a guitar?” so I thought it was time to put out something that’s true to what I typically do!
LH And I love that the tickets to the show were just $2……to reflect the title of one of your most popular songs, $2 Bill!
2. LH The set list was compiled in a pretty fun way too wasn’t it?
CT Yeah I sat down the night before to try to figure out the flow of the show ….I really HATE making set lists and I was stressing over it so I thought “ I’m just not doing it!”. I took what I’d started writing and cut it up and instead I wrote down all the songs I wanted to sing on even size squares of cardboard and put them all in a bag. I decided I’d shake the bag up at the beginning of the show and get my wife Tera to pass it around, people would reach in and whatever song came out that’s what I would sing! I sort of threw it out to the universe to find out if it had a sense of humour and it turns out that the universe is hilarious! It also got me to engage more with the audience and it’s probably something I’ll do again.
3. LH So the burning question is, when will the album be available?
CT I don’t have a deadline on it….one of the perks of being an independent artist….but it will be in 2020, probably the first half.
4. LH And what about any new material, have you been writing much lately?
CT Yeah and I’m going to test a few out tonight ahead of my shows in Hamburg and Berlin! I managed to get to write with Brandy Clark ( LH Wow, my total favourite!)
and Erin Enderlin as well ( LH Love her too!)
. It’s funny ‘cos I’ve known both of them for years and we have tons of mutual friends …I’m not a signed staff writer which I fight with sometimes, I try to keep the rights to all of my songs but it also means that sometimes you don’t get opportunities to get into a room with people you’d like to write with….but I just asked and they said “ YEAH, don’t know why we haven’t done that before!
5. LH Going right back now to your growing up in Ohio, with the music business being notoriously brutal was there ever a “ Plan B”?
CT Yes there was, thanks to my parents! Although music was without any question what I was going to do and they knew the way this was going….I even had a teddy bear named Nash….I was also always going to college. Period. I hadn’t thought about what to do for my degree of course as I hadn’t thought about anything apart from playing guitar ! Their request was that my degree be in something other than music ( a real back up plan) so I have a degree in Secondary Education, emphasis in History, Geography and Political Science. I actually substitute taught just after college for a couple of years and saved up money to move to Nashville so I guess it did come in useful!
6. LH And your move to Nashville, did you know anyone there? Was it daunting?
CT It was incredibly daunting! It’s hard to understand how a performer can say this but I’m naturally an introvert. When I first moved to Nashville I knew a girl I’d gone to college with, she was my room mate for the first six months there but our interests were different ….she was waiting to get into a masters programme which she did and which took her to North Carolina. So I really didn’t know anybody in Nashville then! I had a friend come down from Ohio who said “ what are you doing….you’ve been down here eight months!” and I said “ I don’t know what to do!” …..and she suggested I play the writers nights. So we went to the Bluebird Cafe and I thought the joke’s on her ‘cos nobody plays their first night there, I’d gone and watched, you’re given a number but you never get picked and you always have to come back . But I was number eight that night ….and it was a lot less scary once I did it!
7. LH And although you’re really busy back home these days both writing and touring we are lucky that you come back to visit us here in the UK on a regular basis. What’s the draw….apart from our cider that i know you love!
CT The cider is important but it’s the audience. There’s an awareness that I feel happens here, particularly to the lyrics, which I feel is getting lost in the States. If you’re in folk music there i feel there’s still some appreciation but country music, and even americana, is getting away from that to a degree. In country music I feel that it’s more about mood and possibly melody. I’m a word girl!
LH Have you thought about playing some festivals here? Something you haven’t done yet have you?
CT Yes! in fact that’s something i’m looking at doing next year!
8. LH But this visit here is a very fleeting one isn’t it as you’re on the way to Europe to open for long term friend and cowriter Ashley Mcbryde in Hamburg, Berlin and Amsterdam ……..can you remember the first time you wrote together?
CT We first met fourteen or fifteen years ago and I’m sure I made her write something horrible! I found out early on with our writing that we could both get pretty goofy. So we did that ’til one of us got a deal and it wasn’t making business sense to write goofy songs! We would blow off steam together because no one else would let us!
LH I’m so excited to see you both in Germany next week!
9. LH What’s your favourite song that you’ve written together?
CT “ My Best Dress” ( co-written wth Randall Clay too )
10 LH And what’s on the cards for the rest of the year?
CT Well immediately after the dates with Ashley I’m going to Denmark to play some writers’ rounds .And then I’ll be back home for about ten days before I do a fan event in St Croix , Virgin Islands, …..we’ve partnered with a boutique hotel and filled it with friends and family who are going to come down and listen to music! From there it’s off to Montana for writer’s retreat followed by some house concerts and regular gigs for the rest of the year!
LH I’m exhausted just thinking about all that! Thank you so much for your time, good luck with everything you have planned and I’ll look forwards to that live album next year for sure!