Traditional, pure country was revitalized opening day at Stagecoach thanks to the Malpass Brother’s outstanding performances of legendary covers and original songs dedicated to their heroes.
These good ‘ol boys brought their Southern roots and love for all things retro to the Palomino stage in Indio, Calif., during a midday set on Friday.
Lead singer Christopher Malpass introduced the band to the audience by sharing two questions they get asked the most:
“Do you really talk like that and is that your real hair?”
So of course, Christopher drawled the answer to both, explaining that “We’re from North Carolina. And yes, this is really our hair. Yes, this is how we really talk.”
Christopher and Taylor Malpass are as authentic as it gets, and stay true to the deep love they have for the traditional country music first introduced to them on their granddaddy’s phonograph records. From their ’50s throwback pompadour hairstyles and mutton chops to their western outfits and infamous Elvis-like hip swivels, these siblings proudly wave the banner for traditional country music, and they are adamant about preserving the art.
“My brother Taylor and I do the type of music we do because this music speaks to us, and speaks to the souls of its listeners,” said Christopher. “For us, traditional country music is the ‘real deal’ – every song portrays life’s joys, heartaches, problems and happiness. It comes from the heart, and has depth and truth. Nothing is sugar coated. Our goal, really, is to see this music be revived, to help ensure it doesn’t fade away.”
During their mid-afternoon set, the brothers preached that gospel by performing several covers to honor a few of their country pioneers.
Christopher perfectly captured his music idol Johnny Cash with flawless renditions of “Folsom Prison Blues” and his personal favorite “Luther Played the Boogie.” When taking over singing duties for a cover of the Faron Young/Willie Nelson track “Hello Walls,” Taylor’s bellowing vocals also nailed the command and presence shared by those greats.
Other notable covers included Nelson’s “If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time,” Jimmy Rodgers’ “Blue Yodel No 4 (California Blues), where Taylor ripped off stellar leads on his Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gent guitar, Marty Robbins’ “Begging To You” and Merle Haggard’s “Working Man Blues.”
Haggard’s recent passing has hit the brothers hard, as the country outlaw legend was a huge champion of the Malpass siblings. The duo spent more than 7 years working with Haggard, touring with him and even recording torch track “Memory That Bad” at his studios.
And when it comes to creating original material, the duo firmly upholds the musical styling and qualities that would make their idols proud. Taylor’s guitar work on “Memory That Bad” perfectly accentuates Christopher’s sincere vocals and lyrics, resulting in a single that already seems country timeless.
The brothers planned to end their set with an homage to Cash via their original number “Man In Black Is Wearing White,” and had even begun to unplug their instruments at its conclusion. But the crowd was so pleased with the set that they began asking for “just one more.”
So instead, they threw up another song in honor of Haggard with “Working Man Blues,” thus concluding an outstanding west coast showing for this southern duo. But thanks to the Malpass Brothers, the audience got to take a journey of its own, as it was like opening up a time capsule and rediscovering some of country music’s best offerings.