How do you top three hours of Pearl Jam on Pensacola Beach?

Nothing else that weekend could possibly outdo that performance. It would be impossible. Right?

DeLuna Fest: Day Two

The afternoon began with local groups Paloma, The Real Hooks and Kitt Lough building the momentum for a promising sequel to Day One.

Leading up to an evening that would feature Foo Fighters, Bad Brains, Jimmy Cliff and The Joy Formidable,two of my favorite surprises of the afternoon lineup were sets by Maggie Rose and Chris Staples.

While writing artist intros for the PNJ’s coverage of the festival, I was stumped by two words.

Maggie Rose

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The name sounded familiar. Too familiar. When I searched for more information, I discovered a true Hollywood story.

Young lady starts out in a Bruce Springsteen coverband, drops out of a prestigious music program, catches the eye of music mogul Tommy Mattola, but parts ways to make her name in country music with legendary producer James Stroud.

Then, I clicked on the link to her song “I Ain’t Your Momma”.

MAGGIE ROSE INTERVIEW

MS: You rocked at DeLuna Fest. How did you enjoy the festival and Pensacola Beach?

MR: I would love to come back and play. The beach and the weather was perfect and the crowd was (phone cuts out). I would love to do that again. That was one of my favorite shows this year.

MS: That leads to my next question. You mentioned shows this year; you recently played the (Grand Ole) Opry, you just came off the Country Throwdown Tour and you’re about to join the Blake Shelton Cruise. With all these amazing things going on in your life, what is the most amazing part of being Maggie Rose?

MR: I would say, especially at this stage of my career, it would be getting out there and playing for fans and meeting people and making new fans because I’m just beginning my journey and getting my music out there. So to see the reaction from people that have never heard the music before and see that they’re relating to it and it’s reaching them, it’s just one of the most exciting parts about what I’m doing.

MS: What is the craziest thing you’ve seen at one of your shows?

MR: Well, (laughs) I’ve definitely paid my dues in some respects. My guitar player and I played at a county fair a couple of years ago and while we were playing, right in front of our stage, there was a rodeo arena and then the fans were behind that and during our show, there was- I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of mutton busting, because I’ve never heard of it until that day-and there is a little kid trying to ride on sheep while we were playing. That was probably the most odd activity and show environment I’ve ever played in, but if you’ve done that, I guess you’ve seen it all. I don’t know. I hope that doesn’t happen again, but it was an interesting experience. Because you have sheep crying in front of you while you’re playing and the audience is a hundred yards away. Little kids are falling off on the ground, so it was interesting. And I bet you weren’t expecting me to say that, where you?

MS: No, not at all. That’s the first time I’ve heard that.

MR: I’m sorry, Michael.  I don’t know how you’re going to relay that. I’m telling the truth.

MS: Your sound and when I listen to you live, you’ve got soul, rhythm. I even noticed a little hard rock there. What kind of music did you listen growing up?

MR: Well, I grew up in the D.C. area, so it’s not really a specific area. I got to hear a little bit of everything and I would credit my influences to what my mom played and Mary Chapin Carpenter was one of her favorites. I love Bonnie Raitt. I love Fleetwood Mac. I do love classic rock; I mean AC/DC’s great turn-it-up music. Just a little bit of everything and I wanted to preserve that Southern rock feel, but I love the storytelling aspect of country music so that’s why I gravitated as a writer towards country.

MS: When did you know that this was what you wanted to do for your career?

MR: I knew I wanted to be a performer from a very early age. My parents were very supportive of me as a singer, they would drive me to choir practice and drive me to parties and weddings that I’d sing at and they loved hearing me so it just really nurtured my talents and I think it was the first gig that I got paid for. I was just totally stunned that I would get paid to do something that I loved so much. I was like, “I should make a living doing this. Ok.” I think I figured out what I want to be and I studied (phone cut out) I’m sitting here in my hotel room in California and my service is inconsistent.

MS: No problem. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to face so far in your career?

MR: If you want to be an entertainer and if you want to break into the music industry, you have to be really hard working, you have to know that the door is going to get shut in your face a bunch of times and I had one meeting that broke through with Tommy Mottola. He’s the director of Sony and he saw a lot of potential in me, but obviously my heart was country music and I wanted to be a country artist and he’s more involved with pop. So he introduced me to my producer James Stroud. He knew James through his wife while they were working with the Dixie Chicks. So it was really that chance meeting like luck meeting preparation. It was just hard to have those two things line up. It was a world wind because I was right in the middle of my sophomore year and I knew it was what I wanted to do, but having the rubber meet the road and actually going and taking myself out of college life and moving to Nashville just seemed like too extreme. But once I did it, it was absolutely natural. It felt like that was the place I should have been all along.

MS: Well, I’m glad you didn’t go back to school. So thank you, because you rock.

MR: What? What did you say?

MS: I’m glad you didn’t go back to school because you rock.

MR: You know what? Me too, Michael. I feel like my education actually started once I got to Nashville.

MS: With all these amazing people you’ve met, Maggie, what is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

MR: I think you have to-I’m surrounded by really great people-and I’m really grateful for that, but at the end of the day, I just have to make sure that my own voice is strong and that I follow my gut because everyone has an opinion, especially with something as subjective as music and the only thing that sets me apart from any other artist out there is that they’re not me and I’m not them.

MS: What’s the ultimate dream for you?

MR: I want to be a live touring act. My goal is-obviously I want-I think country radio is such an important part of breaking an artist in country music, but I really want to just be traveling the world and touring for big audiences and reaching people with my music through live performances.

MS: Hell yeah. I see it. Is there anybody that you haven’t worked with that you’d love to work with?

MR: There’s so many writers out there that I’d love to collaborate with and a lot of them I’ve met in Nashville, but I feel I just barely scratched the surface of people I’d love to co-write with.

MS: Do you prefer crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

MR: Chunky absolutely, all the way. I would just put straight peanuts on a piece of bread; the crunchier the better.

MS: Is there anything you want to add for your fans or anyone coming to see you in the near future?

MR: I would say I’m very acceptable in person and on my social media. I want my fans to reach out to me because I check my Facebook page everyday and I do see a comment and I hear what you’re saying and my fans influence me as much, if not more than I influence them with my music, so I love having open communication with my listeners.

MS: That’s awesome because some artists don’t do that.

MR: Music is, you’re starting a conversation with your listeners and it just becomes even more relatable if the listener has a little bit of a sense of the person that’s singing a song to them.

MS: That’s beautiful. Before I ask you this last question, I have to share a quick story with you; for the paper, I was writing artist bios for our festival guide and I saw that you were playing. I wrote a little short bio and I sent it to my editor and he emailed me back and said, “Michael, make sure this is the Maggie Rose that’s playing at DeLuna Fest” and I said, “I’ll check.” And that’s when I called Karen (Maggie’s manager) and she confirmed, I said, “Yeah, Julio (PNJ Entertainment Editor)” so actually, you met him also, you took a photo with him. Everyone was like, “Why is Maggie Rose playing this stage?” She needs to be on a bigger stage. (She laughs)

MR: It was a cool environment though. It was so hot outside, I thought, “OK, maybe (phone cuts out), but I think it was actually hotter in The Dock because so many people had come. It was really cool to just see I was pulling people off the streets and the audience was really focused, which I wasn’t anticipating for a bar setting, especially a bar on the beach. I thought it would be more of a rowdy crowd, but they were great. They were very focused on every song and it was easy to play for that kind of audience. Maybe if I come back next year for the DeLuna Fest, we’ll be on a different stage. And I’m glad your girlfriend liked the show, tell her I said “Hi” and thank her.

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MS: I will. As a matter of fact, we fell in love with the song, “I Ain’t Your Mama”. When can we expect a follow up to that single?

MR: The album, we’re shooting for a Valentine’s Day release. Like the week of Valentine’s Day. So I have actually a lot of work to do. It seems far away, but when I’m on the road as often as I am, the only time, when I’m in Nashville, is all dedicated to finishing the album in the studio. I’m excited. It’s getting very close. You’re going to hear some music you haven’t heard yet and a lot of the songs that we played at the show in Pensacola are going to be on the album as well. I’m excited.

MS: It would be a great Valentine’s Day present because I’m in the dog house right now, Maggie.

MR: It would be. Tell her not to take any of the songs where people die personally. Some people die on the album and if you’re giving it to her as a Valentine’s Day present, tell her to not take those songs personally. There’s no meaning behind them. They may not be the most romantic of songs, but they’re good stories.

CHRIS STAPLES INTERVIEW

In 2012, I asked local rock group Paloma to name their favorite local band of all time. “Twothirtyeight” was the band identified by most of the members.

A decade after their breakup, Staples announced that the band were reuniting to play DeLuna Fest. Staples also played a set with drummer Tim Very during DeLuna Fest. I interviewed Staples as part of PNJ/GoPensacola.com’s festival coverage.

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The Full interview follows below:

“On April 17th, Founding member Chris Staples posted this announcement on his Facebook page. ‘Twothirtyeight (my old band) broke up 10 years ago. We are reuniting in September to play DeLuna Fest in Pensacola Fl. Come hang on the beach for a few days!'”

 As his band prepares for to play again, Staples talked about the reunion, DeLuna Fest and why this could be your last chance to see the power that is Twothirtyeight

MS: Last year about this time, I asked the members of Paloma to name their all-time favorite Pensacola band and pretty much all of them said Twothirtyeight. How did the reunion come about?

CS:  Tim, who is playing drums for the Twothirtyeight reunion, he’s a good friend of mine, I do solo music and stuff and Tim plays with me, he tried talking to Clint All, he’s one of the bookers for DeLuna Fest and Tim sort of had the idea we should do a reunion. It was so hard to get a reunion because a couple of the guys-one of the guys lives in Seattle and one lives in St. Louis- so it takes money and none of us could really have afforded to take off work and do it, but basically DeLuna Fest is making it possible for this to actually happen. And that’s kind of how…it was only a couple months ago that we started talking about it and we called Clint and came together really fast.

MS: With your solo work and Discover America, you’re very busy. Is there any pressure to live up to those high expectations from your past with Twothirtyeight?

CS: I don’t feel like I’m getting a lot of pressure from people, but I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself. It’s a whole lot of material to learn. (Music) that I haven’t played in over ten years and a lot of it is kind of complex guitar stuff and we don’t have a lot of time to pull it together. I’m working really hard to try to get really tight with it. So, yeah, there is a little bit of like, “We want to pull it off and it be good.” There is some degree of pressure involved.

MS: Are you getting enough sleep, Chris? You’re a busy man.

CS: Yeah, I’m getting plenty of sleep. Actually, yeah, it’s fine. I’m kind of doing freelance work so I have a lot time to devote to other stuff. It’s not too bad.

MS: What can the DeLuna Fest crowd look forward to when Twothirtyeight hits that stage?

CS: One thing we wanted to do was play songs from all throughout the band’s history because we we’re a band for seven years and we put out a lot of stuff. We wanted to play music from the early days all the way up to the very last record we put out. A variety of stuff.

MS: Is there a chance that you could record another album with Twothirtyeight or tour after DeLuna Fest?

CS: We’ve definitely talked about how fun it would be to get back together and make a record. It would be really fun. That’s actually sounds really exciting to me, but the reality of it is, we’re all grown up and then Kevin (Woener) our guitar player has a family and he lives in Seattle and he has a career and (bassist) Ben (May) lives in St. Louis and has a family. It really is hard to make that kind of time you need to do that. So I would say, probably, most likely, “No, we’re never going to record or write again.” We’re playing Atlanta and DeLuna Fest and those are our last, those two reunion shows are our only shows and that will be it.

MS: What bands are you’re excited about seeing at DeLuna Fest?

CS: I really wanted to see Pearl Jam. I was a big fan when I was a kid and stuff, but I’m actually going to miss them. I’ll be busy. I won’t be able to see them. I was kind of bummed about that. And Foo Fighters, I’m kind of excited about seeing them obviously. But mostly Dwight Yoakam. I’m really excited to see him. It’s going to be a good show. It’s going to be cool. I’ve never been to a music festival on the beach before. I think it’s a cool setting for a live festival setting. I love the beach.

MS: What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

CS: Wow. Like music related?

MS: Anything you’d like to discuss. Music or personal, whatever you feel comfortable with.

CS: I got Type I three years ago. My pancreas basically died. It was kind of like a really big out-of-nowhere kind of shock. And then I had to learn a whole lot about something that I didn’t know anything about. That was a pretty big process. That was probably the biggest hurdle I’ve had to jump over. Does that qualify?

MS: Oh yeah. I’ve seen it through my mom. Are you taking shots.

CS: I was doing that for awhile. I’m on an insulin pump now. It’s really made things a lot easier and I have a lot better control over my blood sugar now with that thing. It’s kind of one that technology has improved the lives of people. It’s pretty high tech. I don’t have to poke myself, but once every three days. She has to take shots and stuff?

MS: Yeah, before she eats. That is a big obstacle. My hats off to you.

CS: How long has she had it?

MS: About eight years. Does it affect your performing at all?

CS: Not really. I just have to test myself regularly and be sure not to eat too many carbs. It hasn’t kept me from playing yet. I have a really, really good doctor who’s helped me a lot actually. She has gone to bat for me with my insurance company to make sure I get the stuff that I need. Like they weren’t going to pay for this pump and she called them and fought with them for me. It’s pretty sweet to have someone in the medical field going to bat for you. It hasn’t affected me being able to perform.

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MS: What’s your favorite concert of all-time in Pensacola, Florida?

CS: I have to think. I’ve seen so many good shows. I used to go to the old Sluggo’s on Palafox when I was in high school. Probably, there was a band called Weston, they were a fun pop punk band, they were really tight, but really funny dudes. That was one of the funnest…I’ve seen them twice. Weston and probably Hot Water Music. I saw Hot Water Music, probably one of my favorite shows, I saw them at the Nite Owl, that was in probably 97, 98. It was really exciting. Awesome show. I think the Nite Owl closed pretty soon after that too.

MS: That’s a sad thing too. All of those awesome shows that were there too.

CS: I think Nirvana actually played there. I didn’t go to that show, probably about a year earlier. It was before “Nevermind” came out, but Nirvana played at the Nite Owl. I thought that was pretty crazy.

MS: So much history in Pensacola, it’s crazy. With all of your years, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

CS: Geez. (laughs) Man you ask me some tough questions. Can I like email you this question. Let me think about it.

MS: Sure. What would Chris Staples of today tell a young Chris who was just starting out?

CS: I would say, I was really super eager and driven to the point of burning of just burning myself out. I would probably say to just like “Take it easy, take it as it comes. Chill out. Slow and steady wins the race.” I was really, really eager. I just basically burned myself out and I’m not really like that anymore. I’m way more like persistent but in a calm way.

MS: In return, what would the young Chris say to Chris now?

CS: Probably get off your ass more (laughs).

MS: I want to do a word association with you. I’m going to ask you a word and if you could just tell me what each word means to you?.

CS: Sounds fun. I’m excited about this.

MS: Pensacola, Florida

CS:  I just thought of the beach, which is like really obvious.

MS: No. that’s awesome. That’s how you feel. You’re coming from your heart.

CS: Actually Cordova Mall. I’ll just put Cordova Mall. (laughs)

MS: DeLuna Fest

CS:  Beach Ball.

MS: TwoThirtyEight

CS: I don’t know, man. Can we pass that one.

MS: Discover America

CS: Columbus

MS: Christian Metalcore

CS: Stryper

MS: Do you prefer crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

CS: Crunchy all the way.

MS: When it’s all said and done, how do you want Chris Staples and his music to be remembered?

CS: Geez. I don’t know. Just honest I guess.

MS: Anything else you’d like to add?

CS: No, just excited about DeLuna Fest. Excited to see old friends I haven’t seen in awhile. Should be a fun time. Looking forward to it.

MS: Are you playing any shows in town before DeLuna Fest?

CS: Not in Pensacola. Nothing right now. That’s the only thing I have in Pensacola right now. We’re also playing the Masquerade on the 21st of September in Atlanta. Those are the two Twothirtyeight reunion shows, Atlanta and DeLuna. I’m playing some solo Florida shows with Manchester Orchestra in August, like Gainesville, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and St. Petersburg.

– Michael L. Smith

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