October 18, 2017
Following the Palmetto Bluff debut performance of its EP Clean Slate, Tell Scarlet readies for the next step. <\/em><\/blockquote>\r\nBefore they were freshly minted recording artists with a hot EP and a slew of concerts and private events around the Southeast, Tell Scarlet was a wedding band paying the bills by covering \u201cPlay That Funky Music\u201d at receptions around Savannah.\r\n\r\nAnd before that, they were family.\u00a0<\/em>\r\n\r\nYet, even as their debut, Clean Slate, <\/em>racks up Spotify spins worldwide, Tell Scarlet is still getting the party started at weddings and private events. And above all else, no matter the bevy of changes the group has seen in its three years as a band, they remain family.\r\n\r\nQuite literally in this case. Dual-threat vocalists Mary Davis and Julia Shuman are mother and daughter, joined on stage by the padre de familia Jeff Davis, Julia\u2019s husband, Corey, and the newest addition Will Davis, the youngest of the Davises and the group\u2019s resident rapper.\r\n\r\n\u201cHe\u2019d been in high school and we were just waiting for him to grow up,\u201d Mary said, her sly chuckle growing into one of the regular peals of laughter that seem to flow through the group when they sit down to discuss their craft.\r\n\r\n\u201cOh thanks, Mom,\u201d Will responded, mockingly playing the part of the petulant teen, which only added to the laughter.\r\n\r\nTraditionally, the only people that argue more than family members are bandmates. To see the members of Tell Scarlet interact, both on stage and around a coffee table in Savannah during a magazine interview, is to see that tradition upended by a swift current of love and respect.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe all have the same vision,\u201d Mary said. \u201cIt\u2019s a good fit. Everyone here works really hard.\u201d\u00a0<\/em>\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s quality family time. When we\u2019re playing, I\u2019m off the streets and out of trouble,\u201d Jeff added, setting off another round of laughs.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s a lot of respect all around. Will, for example, is better than I am at a lot of things,\u201d Julia said. (To which Will replied, \u201cLike being a dude. Everybody has something valuable they bring to the table.\u201d)\r\n\r\n\u201cWhat you\u2019re saying is: we are all the secret weapon,\u201d Will added.\u00a0<\/em>\r\n\r\nEverything about that shared love for one another and for their craft infuses each Tell Scarlet show. Originally formed as a wedding band, they determined early on that if they were going to become successful by tearing through the classic reception songbook, they were going to make each song their own. Switching deftly from \u201cLove Shack\u201d to \u201cAt Last,\u201d the band relies heavily on its astounding collection of talent to breathe new life into songs that decades of weddings have otherwise driven into the ground.\r\n\r\n\u201cThat\u2019s who we are,\u201d Mary said. \u201cWe\u2019re not afraid to cover anything.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe exceptions are few and far between\u2014\u201cElectric Slide\u201d is relegated to the iPod while the band goes out and joins the party in dancing, while Jeff claims they don\u2019t play \u201cY.M.C.A.\u201d because, \u201cI don\u2019t fit into the chaps.\u201d\r\n\r\nBut for everything else, the band leapfrogs from genre to genre with a mix of party-starting hits and standbys, all infused with their inimitable sound.\r\n\r\n\u201cIf Twenty One Pilots, Fleetwood Mac, and Little Big Town had a baby, it would be Tell Scarlet,\u201d Julia said.\r\n\r\nAnd now that signature sound has found a new home on the five tracks that populate the band\u2019s debut EP, Clean Slate<\/em>. Performed live for the first time during a recent concert at Palmetto Bluff, the recording sessions for Clean Slate <\/em>not only allowed Mary a chance to reach into a deep lyrical well formed from a long career in music, but also gave Corey and Julia\u2019s fledgling Little Bird + Big Sound label its first recording.\r\n\r\n\u201cI started writing just for myself, but with Tell Scarlet in mind,\u201d Mary said, who sent the first vocals to Corey on her iPhone one day on somewhat of a whim. To her surprise, he laid down backing tracks to the vocals and created the demo version of what would become the title track: \u201cClean Slate.\u201d\r\n\r\nAnd here we see an intriguing part of the family bond that ties Tell Scarlet together as a band\u2014the mutual respect between Corey and his mother-in-law.\r\n\r\nThe blending of his pop sensibilities with her inspired lyrics can be found on every note of the new EP. \u201cI like working with Mary,\u201d Corey said. \u201cIt\u2019s like we\u2019re really close friends. Some people you work with, the chemistry isn\u2019t there. Especially in this craft.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cI like the challenge of finding out what makes someone want to hear a song over and over again,\u201d Mary said, describing what Corey refers to as \u201cear candy.\u201d\u00a0<\/em>\r\n\r\nWith Jeff showing Corey a few pointers on equipment he\u2019d need, Corey began building the in-home studio (he refers to it as a \u201cblanket fort\u201d) that would launch his record label, the EP, and a new chapter in the band\u2019s history. \u201cMy whole house is a studio at this point,\u201d Corey laughed.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe really have two sides to us now,\u201d Mary explained. \u201cIn the beginning, we positioned ourselves as a wedding and event band. Now, we\u2019re a band who plays events.\u201d\r\n\r\nAnd beyond corporate events, you\u2019ll find Tell Scarlet regularly performing at Savannah\u2019s City Market, this year\u2019s Palmetto Bluff concert series, and venues like the Myrtle Beach Hard Rock Cafe.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt slept the first year, it crept the second year, and it leaped the third year,\u201d Jeff said of the band\u2019s paradoxically slow-growing overnight success.\r\n\r\nAnd no matter what changes the band sees in year four and beyond, with plans for larger venues and a new EP every year, there will be one constant: they will forever be family.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n[vc_single_image image=\"8072\" img_size=\"full\" css=\".vc_custom_1508347110123{padding-right: 10px !important;padding-left: 10px !important;}\"]CLEAN SLATE<\/em>, TRACK BY TRACK\u00a0<\/strong>\r\n\r\nTell Scarlet\u2019s debut EP, Clean Slate<\/em>, takes the pop-country aesthetic that has made the band\u2019s covers the darlings of the Savannah party scene and infuses them around five wholly original tracks. Written by Mary Davis and produced in the self-described \u201cblanket fort\u201d in Corey Shuman\u2019s kitchen, the EP beautifully showcases why Tell Scarlet is one of the most sought-after bands in the Lowcountry.\r\n\r\nCLEAN SLATE ","<\/em>The title track barrels right out of the gate with a grit-and-grease country riff that pairs with Julia\u2019s silky vocals like steak and red wine. \u201cIt\u2019s just badass,\u201d Will said. \u201cI hear that and feel like I should have a pistol on each hip.\u201d\r\n\r\nMAKE LOVE NOT WAR ","<\/em>The jangly guitars and mandolin place this track squarely in the pop-country genre and showcase the powerhouse production Corey brought to the table. \u201cI love the explosion of the chorus,\u201d Corey said. \u201cIt feels like a hoedown at the beginning, and then you get this wall of sound.\u201d\r\n\r\nWOODS ","<\/em>Tell Scarlet is in large part defined by the pairing of Mary\u2019s and Julia\u2019s vocals, and here those harmonies soar over a love note tinged with a melancholic vein of pure country. \u201cWe call it the cowboy love song,\u201d Mary said.\r\n\r\nEVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN ","<\/em>The country takes a backseat to the pop on this synth-heavy radio-ready track that commemorates a time in the band\u2019s life when, like the song says, everything was changing. \u201cCorey and Julia had just gotten married, and there was a lot of change happening all at once,\u201d Mary said. \u201cWe\u2019re family. That\u2019s why the song talks about how love is the main thing.\u201d\r\n\r\nFOREVER FAMILY","<\/em>The first track written for the EP, the tear-jerking closer, takes us out on a simple blend of acoustic strings and Tell Scarlet\u2019s signature harmonies. Mary wrote the song a few years ago for her brother and sister-in-law\u2019s non-profit Project 143, which helps orphans find a home. \u201cYou can really hear her heart in it,\u201d Jeff said. \u201cYou can hear it in all of them, but that one is special.\u201d\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nBy: Anna Jones\r\n\r\nPhotos by: Barry Kaufman \/ Shuman Fine Art Photography[vc_single_image image=\"8073\" img_size=\"full\" css=\".vc_custom_1508347164309{padding-right: 10px !important;padding-left: 10px !important;}\"]"]
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