Stoney LaRue and the Arsenals
10:30 p.m. Saturday
Wormy Dog Saloon
311 E. Sheridan
By his own admission, things have really fallen into place for Stoney LaRue.
"I just fell into the right spot, got on the right train at the right point," he said. "So far, I've been very blessed."
Of course, LaRue's being modest. Talent played a part, and so did a willingness to bare his heart, as evidenced in the stirringly autobiographical "Downtown," the title track from his 2002 debut. It chronicles the breakup of his parents' marriage through the eyes of a child, and catches up with LaRue in the present day, propelled by the grandfather who raised him.
"If it weren't for my granddad, I wouldn't be standing here today," he sings. "All the years he spent pushing me, saying, 'Boy, go do your thing, downtown.'"
The guitar was pretty much the only recreation the young country-rocker had, growing up on a farm in rural southeast Oklahoma.
"I played guitar and worked in the garden, picked up rocks, cut wood or raised pigs," he said.
His father, a bassist who played in various bands, taught LaRue and his older brother, Bo Phillips, their first chords. Like so many other country singers and red-dirt performers, The Farm in Stillwater played a role in shaping young LaRue's vision of songwriting. He was only 18 and new to the city when he visited the one-time songwriter's Mecca.
"It was like a small little tribe of elders and a bunch of young warriors," he said. But that was only the beginning. LaRue soon discovered The Farm's youthful counterpart, the Yellow House, started by Jason Boland and Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed.
LaRue went on to recruit the Organic Boogie Band to back him and to help record his debut live (but not in front of an audience) at Tulsa's Cain's Ballroom. He followed that in 2005 with the "Red Dirt Album," his first studio release.
It's been a few years, obviously, with only a concert album/DVD, 2007's "Live at Billy Bob's Texas," released in the interim, LaRue's been on the road steadily since, and mustered up the courage and material for a second album, which he's begun recording in Nashville, Tenn., with Lee Ann Womack's husband, producer Frank Liddell.
LaRue's already cut a handful of songs with a crack crew of Nashville players who've played with likes of Neil Young, Mark Knopfler, The Wallflowers and The Rolling Stones. Earl Scruggs' son, Randy, is even helping out on guitar, and it's being recorded in Javelina Recording Studio, where Elvis Presley once recorded.
"I didn't even have to smoke weed to freak out on that experience," LaRue said. "It's really the biggest thing I've ever done."
Everything seems to be building steadily for him. This week, he was chosen to open acoustically for Willie Nelson at the famous Cotillion in Wichita, Kan., and with this album, he's poised to reap the musical seeds he's sown the last five years with his hard touring schedule.
But LaRue's trying not to get too worked up about it.
"It's happening for a reason, and if you go with it and don't go against it, then it's a lot easier," he said. "Go with the flow and let it all be what it's going to be. If we think we have control over anything, we're sorely mistaken." "Chris Parker