Drew and Ellie Holcomb’s ‘Keep on the Sunny Side’ Honors Country Music’s Original Family [Exclusive Premiere]
Dualtone Records was still relatively new when the label released June Carter Cash's posthumous, multi-Grammy Awards-winning 2003 album Wildwood Flower. The reason the record label signed the aging country legend for the project, though, is the same reason they're still signing artists two decades later.
"It's more about making history than it is about making a hit record," says Dualtone Records co-founder and CEO Scott Robinson. The label's early acquisition of the masters for Carter Cash's 1999 album Press On prompted her manager to begin a conversation with Dualtone, which then led to a truly unforgettable lunch at the Carter-Cash home in Hendersonville, Tenn.
"It [was] basically like hanging out with your grandmother, right?" Robinson recalls of their get-to-know-you meeting. Carter Cash died in May of 2003, four months before Wildwood Flower's release, but that day, she and Johnny Cash played Robinson and company a number of songs — on Mother Maybelle Carter's autoharp, no less! — and asked them to make an album with her.
"They were both really old, they were both in poor health," Robinson remembers, but for those 40 minutes or so, their youthful spirits shined through. "You would have thought they were on The Johnny Cash Show or something ... It was amazing," he adds.
Carter Cash and Dualtone created Wildwood Flower at Mother Maybelle's former home in the Clinch Mountains — a "magical" experience, Robinson says. The album begins with a Carter Family classic, "Keep on the Sunny Side," which has been covered for a new Dualtone Records compilation by Drew and Ellie Holcomb.
"What an honor to cover one of the greatest of American classic songs," Drew Holcomb reflects. "We tried to add some tension to our version, with the the tough, real-life lyrics of the verses, juxtaposed with the one of the happiest choruses out there."
The Holcombs' version of "Keep on the Sunny Side" is premiering exclusively via The Boot; press play below to listen to their take on A.P. Carter's legendary lyrics.
The Holcombs' "Keep on the Sunny Side" cover is one of 15 songs on Amerikinda: 20 Years of Dualtone, a forthcoming compilation album that features current artists and alumni from the Dualtone Music Group roster covering each other's songs. In addition to Carter Cash's Wildwood Flower, the East Nashville-based independent record label, founded in 2001 by Robinson and Dan Herrington, is responsible for, among other releases, the Lumineers' first two albums.
"From the very start, we've tried to build this safe, encouraging space for artists to experiment and create," says Robinson, "and it's just so cool to see how deeply these bands have connected with each other, and to hear the influences and friendships that stretch across the whole history of the label."