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The Amazing Rhythm Aces

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The Aces came together in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1972, first with bassist Jeff Davis and drummer Butch McDade, who had recorded and toured with singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester. Davis and McDade recruited vocalist/guitarist Russell Smith, keyboardist Billy Earheart III, lead guitar, multi-instrumentalist, Barry “Byrd” Burton, and pianist James Hooker to develop a sound mixing pop, country and blue-eyed soul.

Thirty years ago in a Memphis recording studio The Amazing Rhythm Aces™ made their first album, Stacked Deck. It was simply American music - a mixed bag of influences that had drawn them together. Fans didn’t seem to care about labels, either. For more than two decades, songs like “Third Rate Romance”, “Amazing Grace (Used to be Her Favorite Song)” and the Grammy-winning “The End is Not in Sight” would remain etched in the hearts and minds of a generation as benchmarks of popular music’s better days. After recording six more albums and touring with everyone from Willie Nelson and Jimmy Buffet to Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles, the group disbanded in 1981, but its songs lived on as radio staples and its albums were coveted by collectors.

In 1995 the original Aces and new guitarist/mandolinist Danny Parks teamed up to record a collection of their best-known material. Titled Ride Again and released on their own Breaker Records label, it was their first-ever CD. Reaction was positive. The band played a few club dates, then booked a tour of Australia, where they’d always enjoyed a large following. Interest was booming stateside as well, and The Aces returned to play venues throughout the US. In late ‘96 they recorded Out of the Blue, an album of new material also released on Breaker. By 1997, the re-formation was official; The Aces were back as a full-time band. Their new CD, Chock Full of Country Goodness, featured more of Russell Smith’s uniquely rich songwriting and the kind of soul-stirring playing that have kept fans loyal for more than two decades. “What’s happened for us is really gratifying,” Smith says of the group’s rebirth and subsequent popularity.

Nothin’ But the Blues features fourteen songs, five co written with The Aces new guitarist and blues meister Fred James, and one tune with “The Dynamic Willie T.” (Billy Earheart) with guest performances by Jimmie Hall and Gary Nicholson.

Their newest release, Midnight Communion (2007), features Russell Smith, Billy Earheart, Kelvin Holly, Mark Horn and Lorne Rall as the Aces continue to rock the twenty-first century.


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