The din of daily life in New York City can have the effect of obscuring hard work so that labors of love seem to appear out of nowhere. Country band Bourbon Express and producer Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (Steve Earle, Joan Jett) took their time recording the band’s debut studio album, Cry About It Later, behind the well-insulated walls of Cowboy Technical Services Recording Rig in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
While actual days in the studio amount to about two weeks, there were many stops and starts along the way due to conflicting schedules and financial hurdles. “We wrestled with the idea of launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund at least part of the process, but ultimately felt that we’d rather do it ourselves and have a finished product to offer people before asking for money.” Singer-songwriter Katie Curley laughs and adds, “That meant that my husband (guitarist Brendan Curley) and I each took second jobs and ate ramen more often than we would have liked for about a year.”
Katie and Brendan met at a bar in Brooklyn in 2011 where they discovered that they were not only from the same part of the country–the town of Home and city of Tacoma in Washington State, to be exact–but that they shared an uncannily similar taste in music. “I didn’t believe him when he told me that he liked all the country musicians I liked, so I didn’t return his call,” says Katie. A few weeks later, however, she found herself in a pickle when she was invited to perform at the now defunct Rodeo Bar and she needed a band, so she sent him a message asking if he would be interested in the gig.
After a few years of playing in various band configurations, the couple, now married, formed Bourbon Express with vocalist Sarah Kinsey and bassist/vocalist Andrew Dykeman. Katie first approached Ambel to produce Cry About It Later in the summer of 2016. Bourbon Express invited Jonny Lam (Sinkane, Honeyfingers) to play pedal steel, and Melody Berger (Ganstagrass, The Berger Sisters) to play fiddle.
During the summer of 2017, with tracking on Cry About It Later nearly completed, Bourbon Express received the surprising news that Andrew was leaving the band to pursue other opportunities. Everyone wished him well, and it was at that point that the title of the record became clear to Katie. “I was thinking about how after nearly three years of playing together and making this record, we would have to shoot the cover without him and it might be kind of sad. Cry About It Later seemed apt.”
With a new record out and new venues and players on tap, the horizon for Bourbon Express looks anything but sad. After a mixing session at Cowboy Technical, Katie and Brendan revisited the bar where they first met, located near the studio. They recalled the night they met and swapped versions of events. Two whiskies appeared at their fingertips, and they commenced a toast: To Bourbon Express!