I asked Trade Day Troubadour instigator-in-chief, Ryan Keef, how they settled on the name based on local to North East Alabama hot spot Trade Day in Collinsville, AL. Trade Day is where you go to kill a few hours in the morning, trade beagles on dog hill, enjoy the best hot dogs known to man, and browse the rows upon rows of booths where vendors come and set up to sell whatever goods they can muster.
One day, a few years ago, me and a few other people rolled up into Trade Day in my 745 BMW. While there, I decided that I just HAD TO HAVE a sheep. Yes, a sheep; it said “Baaahh” and everything. I sat in the leather seat, holding “Rose” the sheep by her legs all the way home. That day, I was one of those people.
So Ryan, the uber-talented songwriter answered me. “I can’t remember which of us actually made the TDT suggestion, but I’m a sucker for alliterations. So it was pretty much unanimous. We wanted something that somewhat embraced our local heritage or whatever, and we couldn’t come up with anything to incorporate socks into it. Trade Day gives us the local connection, and Troubadours is just obviously appropriate.”
The unique collaboration, Trade Day Troubadours, comprised of the aforementioned Ryan Keef, Reno Roberts, and Matty Croxton; are all from Fort Payne, AL (once the sock capital of the world). They are three skillful musicians who, standing on their own, are extremely gifted and personable. Any performer worth their salt knows how to put their emotions into the performance. It makes the song more relatable, enjoyable, and entertaining. Unless, you’re Jason Isbell and it puts the listener (me) into a state of emotional paralysis. When these three are combined though, their deep friendship is also naturally on display. Any person watching can see their love for the craft, and each other. It’s actually… magnetic.
They let me sit in on some of their recording sessions. It was a complete joy watching the super-charming Matty Croxton belt out the lyrics to “Alabama Winds,” a song just released on his “Southern Discomfort” album. Who doesn’t want to see what happens behind the scenes? For me, it was also the beginning of a story I had to follow. I watched them, I observed these guys for a couple of months. I was there at the Trade Day Troubadours debut in Fort Payne, as well. The excitement they spark and the confidence in their own creative process which they embody make them all acts to follow.
Their opening act for the launching and debut of their new individual/group project at the Barking Legs Theatre in Chattanooga last night, was none other than my good friend since elementary school, Dana Owens. Dana has been playing the local music scene for the last three years with his trusty ukulele. He is such an individual. He can’t help but stand out as the front-runner in the uke game. He’s earned recognition for himself and the little used instrument by playing popular covers and soulful originals.
The Trade Day Troubadours ooze friendship, talent, and uniqueness. They are so comfortable with each other because they are actually best friends. Watching them play puts you at ease and although I was sitting in the Barking Legs Theatre in Chattanooga for their EP release, it felt like I could have been sitting in one of their garages and we were all just hanging out.
I’ve never seen anything like the way they switch instruments, and change gears from singing lead to singing back up instantly; all supporting each other with an ease and comradery that rarely exists in the tough music business.
When Matty flawlessly passed his golden, sparkly upright bass over to Reno, who had only been playing the instrument for the last three months, and took over playing the guitar seamlessly, their combined decades of experience shown through. The Trade Day Troubadours aren’t playing around, well, they are, but they’ve also got what it takes to continue making their unique mark on the world. The event at Barking Legs offered a good book end to this chapter, but they will continue to write their own book.
Check them out for their music and watch the video for an unbeknownst cameo appearance by yours truly…..Trade Day Troubadours