El Rancho Relaxo
Sandra Marron talks to the brains behind El Rancho Relaxo, Glasgow’s premier late night country club, as they gear up for a huge Easter special
Country music lyrics are probably the saddest, most heartfelt, beautiful and humorous ever written. If you don’t believe me, then go listen to ‘Jolene’ by Dolly Parton (or The White Stripes’ version if you prefer). Where else in music would you find a woman begging her man’s mistress to take a hike so that she can keep him for herself, despite the infidelity? Or if you think that’s too old school, then wrap yourself in the weirdly wonderful Bonnie Price Billy blanket of recordings. Kids, if you think My Chemical Romance are the voice of your generation, then this guy will blow your mind. His jarring lyrics on sex and mortality are some of the most poignant you’re ever likely to hear. And then there is the blistering rock’n’roll-infused bedlam that is Gram Parsons. Think this sounds like your cup of Jack D? Then El Rancho Relaxo is the answer to all your prayers.
El Rancho is currently hosting a weekly residency at Brel. According to promoter and DJ El Patron (aka Ian), ‘We play music you don’t tend to hear outwith your own home, alt.country, indie Americana, twisted folk, classic country & western, bluegrass and more.’ The night was born out of his and partner in honky tonk crime Pacey’s (aka Stacey) frustrations. Ian says: ‘We were bored of “samey” pubs and clubs so decided to start a little night, based around Smog, Beechwood Sparks, Wilco and Dominos. We knew there were plenty of people who loved this music so where did they go? Very soon we had friends and new faces coming regularly and bringing CDs along to play.’
The boys have practically created the only regular outlet for this type of music in Glasgow, and while they initially found it hard to book suitable live acts. ‘Now we’re booked up weeks, months in advance,’ thrills Stacey.
Not ones to rest on those country laurels the duo have teamed up with a variety of country-influenced Glasgow bands, including Wilson Tan, Skeleton Bob, The Gilded Angels and the fantastic Glasgow super choir The Parsonage (warming up for their Triptych date, pictured) for a night of hoedown proportions at the Grand Old Opry. ‘The Country Music Easter Jubilee is Ian’s masterplan to bring this to a bigger audience and make a few converts,’ according to Stacey, ‘and doing an event at the Opry is an honour. That place is a gem,’ he beams.
Ian is quick to back this up, ‘I thought we could pull together a few bands who are influenced by country music but all quite individual, to celebrate the music and hopefully have a crossover audience in the Opry regulars with the Rancho goers. We wanted it to sound like a big celebration and we were just lucky it was the start of the Easter weekend,’ he says. The boys are all too aware that country music can have a bit of a stuffy image but they are here to change that. ‘It was due a revival anyway,’ claims Pacey, ‘like everything else that’s good in music, art and fashion.’ He then goes on to recommend Gram Parsons, Broken Family Band, Lucinda Williams, Johnny Paycheck, The Guthries, Merle Haggard, Uncle Tupelo, Laura Cantrell, Blanche and Hank Williams as listening suggestions.
El Rancho Relaxo Country Music Easter Jubilee, the Grand Old Opry, Glasgow, Thu 5 Apr.