It’s not every day that I get to interview my former client (and one of my favorite people) to learn about how following her passion has led her to a career in music! Meet Christine Radlmann (of Westfield, ) and her bandmates Sean Garnhart (also of Westfield), and Colin McConnell (of Cranford). I am so happy to share the story of the Southpaw Band!
When did you first get into music/singing?
I drove my family crazy singing throughout my whole childhood–I’m surprised they didn’t burn my karaoke machine. About 13 years ago I joined a country band in New Jersey, and I’ve been performing ever since. I have a master’s degree in writing and spent several years as a book editor, and my love of words has very much informed my songwriting.
Meet the Southpaw Band:
I live in Westfield, as does our pianist/keyboardist Sean Garnhart (nickname: Squack). Squack is an Emmy Award-winning sound engineer who’s worked on countless movies and TV shows. Guitarist Colin McConnell is a longtime Cranford resident and award-winning advertising professional. Both Sean and Colin have produced several music albums between them, but this is our first country album as a trio.
Is there an interesting story behind the beginnings of the Southpaw Band?
In addition to music, another thing we have in common is we’re all Words With Friends geeks! A few years ago, we found ourselves dueling with each other on the app and eventually made the connection that we’re all local musicians. Colin and Squack were playing together in a local band called The Mungers and asked me to join them for some shows. The shows went great, and the rest is history.
Southpaw is a great name.. What is the meaning behind your band name?
While our core musical tradition is country, we like to mix it up with elements of rock, R&B, soul and other genres. Sort of like a switch-hitter in boxing who dances around between right-handed and left-handed stances—or, from righty to what they call southpaw. We sort of adopted that mentality, playing in southpaw style.
As a NY-metro area artist, we also liked the way Southpaw gives a nod to the early 20th-century roots of country music in the Appalachian south. Oh, and it’s fun to say, easy to remember, and it makes a great logo.
Who are your biggest influences?
We’ve each traveled different musical paths. We’re all inspired by music with strong lyrical content, infectious hooks, and attention to detail in arranging. Hopefully, that comes across in our music. For vocal styling, I’m heavily influenced by Miranda Lambert, Melissa Ethridge, and Lady Gaga, and I’ve always been a huge fan of 70s rock, especially Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Doobie Brothers.
Colin’s early guitar gods were Mark Knopfler and Stevie Ray Vaughn, and he likes country guitar slingers like Brad Paisley and Vince Gill. Sean’s influences are wide–he has a strong classical and jazz background and is a sucker for complex vocal harmonies and arrangements.
There are many country acts we admire, but mostly, we just bring what’s naturally within us to the table, mix it up, and see what comes out. One thing we’re super excited about is adding to the growing talent bank of female-led country out there. We need more strong female voices on the radio.
How would you describe the sound behind the first Southpaw Band album, inspirations?
It’s equal parts ear candy and heart candy, and just exploding with musicality. We wanted to write an album that wraps you up in melody and story, and moves you not just emotionally, but physically. Some of the songs are deeply personal… some are third person storytelling… some make you want to get up and dance. And some make you want to laugh or cry. But there’s a personality and vitality that holds it all together that we hope people find to be uniquely Southpaw. One of the best compliments we’ve received is “not a bad song on the album,” which means a lot to those of us who still believe in the album format.
The meaning behind your album’s name, Unhitched?
This project happened at a time when each of us could find some space to “unhitch” from the routines and obligations that sometimes dictate our lives. It wasn’t always easy, especially with the pandemic, but we made it happen. So the title expresses a sense of freedom we felt in collaborating when we could just run and play with the music. It also captures our artistic vision to stay in a country lane, but allow ourselves to swerve here and there when our instincts call for it.
What does the Southpaw band’s songwriting process look like?
We almost always start with a melody, and the lyrics follow that. I can’t tell you how many voice memos I have saved in my phone where I’m just singing the words “blah blah blah” to a melody that I want to turn into a song. We are very collaborative throughout the whole process, and sometimes the melody or lyrics that we start with are vastly different from the final song.
How were you able to collaborate and make this album during a pandemic?
Thank goodness for modern technology during this pandemic! We would have regular zoom meetings to collaborate, and I would record “scratch” vocals of new songs in my closet, which I’d then send to the guys so they could start the process of instrumentation and arrangement. One time I accidentally left my phone recording in the closet when my daughter came in sick with a stomach bug, and it recorded the whole darn nightmare!
What is your favorite song on the new Southpaw album and why?
I’ve asked Colin and Squack this very question, and they’ve both said something along the lines of, “How do you pick a favorite child?” I love each song for different reasons. But I will admit that my favorite is “We Need a New Love Song,” because I wrote it about my husband.
What places did you visit locally to shoot your music videos and album photos?
If any of your readers kept seeing a blonde belting on random streets of Cranford during the pandemic–that was me! We filmed part of our forthcoming music video in many spots in Cranford, and I don’t lip sync when we film–I actually sing–so we turned quite a few heads. From Nomahegan Park to the train tracks to the Rahway River to Lenape Park to alleyways in downtown Cranford, we were everywhere. We also filmed in Westfield and Scotch Plains.
What was the most fun and/or craziest video shoot adventure?
We shot some of our music video on the Appalachian Trail. Let me tell you–doing outfit changes and going to the bathroom in the middle of the woods ain’t easy. I looked like ET as I changed under a sheet. And I brought along something called a “Travel John” to use in lieu of a bathroom–let’s just say it didn’t quite work as advertised.
How can someone listen to your album this weekend?
The album will be available on all streaming platforms, as well as on iTunes and Amazon, on 2/14/21: search for “Southpaw Unhitched” to find the album. You can also access our music through our website: www.SouthpawCity.com
Where do you see your band a year from now?
We’re looking forward to performing live once the pandemic is over. We’re already working on our second album, so hopefully Southpaw’s music will continue to reach new fans near and far.
You can follow our Instagram account for the most up-to-date news about Southpaw: www.Instagram.com/southpawcity