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Town and Country - Shorter Artist Feature from Issue #7 Jan-Feb 1997

Trailer Bride

One flew over the rooster's nest

CHAPEL HILL, NC

There’s this band called Trailer Bride. They’re impossible to describe, but whatever you wanna call it, they sound really good. They’ve got a new CD that shows off some spiffy guitar and harmonica playing, and some ear-catching vocals, and some deceptively simple, almost loopy lyrics that hide pretty powerful insights.

We’ll get to all that. But first, there’s this thing about roosters. They’re in the songs. They’re on the CD booklet and the flyers, painted by Melissa Swingle, the trailer bride herself. What’s the deal with roosters?

“I don’t know,” Swingle answers, attempting to explain. “But I love roosters. I love roosters. And even though I’m a woman, I have a thing for roosters. Maybe I was a rooster at one point in my life. They’re just so cool because they’ve got that comb that sticks up and wiggles and, you see, I like to fix my hair that way. And they’ve got, you know, what do you call those things? — the hangy-down thing. And they all — the comb and the thing and their feet — match. And I love to hear ‘em in the morning.”

Swingle handles “singing, slide geetar, harmonica” and so forth, along with the songwriting chores. “Fancy guitar” is wielded by Bryon Settle. “I was here one night [Chapel Hill's Local 506 nightclub] and I was hammered,” Settle recalls. “And I walked up and said, ‘Let me play in your band.’ She said, ‘OK.’ ” The duo is augmented by Robert Michener on bass and Brad Goolsby on drums.

“This incarnation of the band has been together about a year and a half,” Swingle said. “I’ve been through about five drummers. This one that we have now is the best by far. He rules, so hopefully he’ll stay with us.”

Swingle is fairly new to all this herself, explaining: “I’ve always loved music and I’ve always like made up little tunes. Three years ago [when she formed the band], I didn’t know any chords, but I was playing. I never really thought I’d be in a rock ‘n’ roll or whatever you call it band.”

Which begs the question: what do you call it? “How ’bout, uh, swampabilly? I hate being categorized anyway because, who knows, we might not wanna do just one genre of music.”

With their just-released, self-titled CD, there’s also the question of hitting the road. But Settle pointed out a couple of reasons not to: “She has a three-year-old, and I have a six-year-old. Considering touring is a big deal.” Adds Swingle, “We wanna play in New York City one weekend. And Atlanta and Athens. But it would have to be like, go for the weekend, come back. Like skirmishes rather than around-the-country touring.”

The CD, recorded at Chapel Hill’s Yellow Recording (co-owned by Settle and Mike Beard), was worked on “two or three hours here, two or three hours there” over the course of a month. But Swingle’s not ready to stop there. “We’ve already got enough songs for a second CD; I think it’s gonna be better,” she says. And based on a recent live performance, that sounds like a pretty safe bet.

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Originally Featured in Issue #7 Jan-Feb 1997

Cover of Issue #7 Jan-Feb 1997

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