Written by Matt Bjorke
Titling your album “Last Of The Good Guys” isn’t a wise decision for many artists but for the three guys that make up “One Flew South,” truer words may have never been spoken. Meeting with Montana native Chris Roberts, Texan Royal Reed and South Carolinian Eddie Bush is like meeting with old friends. Sitting at Fido, a local Nashville coffee house, the guys discussed everything from naming their band (one possible name was “Parachute Adams”) to how they finally struck onto their sound.
When asked how the guys formed, Royal Reed discussed how he and Chris Roberts met while working on Frank Wildhorn’s “Civil War” musical in the 1990s. The two guys became fast friends and just felt a kindred-spirit connection that would keep them in search of a harmony-driven vocal trio, something they discussed with cast mate Larry Gatlin. While they tried to find the right third member, Roberts met with and became friends with Grammy-winning songwriter Marcus Hummon. The songwriter became an early champion of the idea and found Bush, who at the time, was working on a solo career, “I did a showcase at 3rd and Lindsey (in Nashville), I had a friend named Kim Russell who had done work with Marcus, she invited Marcus to come to the show.”
“At the end of the night, he sat down with me…and invited me to come to Nashville the next week. We met then went on to Chris’s house and fumbled around a bit; 'Til we found a song we could sing, “Just Remember I love You” by Fireball.”
It was then that each member of One Flew South knew that they would work as a trio. They met in August of 2005 and by November of the same year they were playing for every label in town. What happened next is clearly a story of perseverance. The guys experienced first hand the, ‘we love what you’re doing but you don’t fit with us.’ The labels had asked who the lead singer was, as there clearly had to be one, yet One Flew South held firm with the notion that there needn’t be one true lead vocalist (not unlike Little Big Town) in a harmony-based collective. So, with money running out, Eddie called on some friends in his hometown of Charleston and secured money for them to go in and record a couple new tracks.
“'Makin’ it Rain' was a demo floating around,” Eddie Bush says. “We had worked up a version of it that was different, Marcus had forgotten about it. This was the first song we sang together, in the studio, as a group.” It was that session where the group also recorded “My Kind of Beautiful.” Those two songs were the ones that had two labels interested in the group, Decca out of New York City and one in Nashville. In fact, the demos were produced so strongly that there was nothing that needed to be changed for the final recording.
As for the songs on the record, the guys discussed what it was like to work with J.D. Souther. Eddie discussed the inspiration of “She’s A Gift.” “I had written that with my wife in mind and took the idea to J.D. and he helped make it more universal.” Chris Roberts basically did the same thing with the song “Life” in that he changed up the Billy Mann song to fit what the group was doing. Both songs have the potential to be a break-out country chart hits for the group.
Like any artist, the members of One Flew South all had jobs that they disliked doing, like delivering pizzas as “The Delivery Guy” to lots of maintenance and construction jobs. In fact, Royal Reed had this to say about those experiences, “It helps us appreciate the fact of our job now. It’s not really like work. Even though it IS hard work, that’s the key, waking up and getting to do something you love. It makes working much easier and it doesn’t feel like work.”
And with that simple wisdom, One Flew South truly may be “the last of the good guys.” They’re a group of guys who are some of the nicest people you could ever meet. The kind of people who are easily fast friends, which is how they come across on record, nice, friendly and exactly the kind of artists the music world could use a lot more of.