Rodney Rice has that home porch sound, can pick with the best of them and has a flair for Prine-like lyrics.
I recognized that edge when I got to “Company Town”an songwriter’s poke at Massey Energy, a coal extracting company at the center of the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, in which 29 miners lost their lives.
“I didn’t call him out by name; I refer to him to him as ‘Mr. Massey,’” Rodney said. “But I guess that’s kind of my take on ‘Mr. Peabody,’ the unnamed head of the Peabody Coal Company memorably referenced in the lyrics of the 1971 Prine classic, ‘Paradise.’”
Rodney is based in Colorado, but was born in Morgantown, West Virginia - the Appalachian, where another good songwriter friend of mine calls home, Scott Miller.
Rodney’s current album, Same SHirT, Different Day, is a winner filled with vivid images like his autobiographical “Memoirs of Our Youth” — a song inspired by a conversation with a friend. “There is a guy I worked with on rigs who was the quiet deep thinker type: Derwin Cromer.
“I wasn’t working with him at the time, but he called me up one night and said, ‘Rodney, I’ve got the perfect line for a song: ‘The days go on forever but the years just fly right by.’ That one line just brought out all the emotion about my childhood… I sat down and wrote whole song off the one line from Derwin.”
Sadly, Cromer lost a two-year battle with cancer earlier this year.
If you like Prine, Billy Joe Shaver or Guy Clark - you’ll love Rodney.
“I always pillaged my older sister’s CD and tape collection,” he says of his early musical discoveries. “She took me to see John Prine. It was the first concert I went to; I was probably 12. We were in the last row but you never felt like you were in the last row at a John Prine show. His band was really tight and they were all sharp-dressed. Then his band walked offstage and it was just him. Just to be able to captivate everyone with you, your guitar, and a song is what it's all about.”