Fans, friends and family of the Sikeston rock band will gather Friday at Cronies for a special performance by Shady Deal to celebrate the release of their debut CD, The Lift.
"We just got them Monday, so they're hot off the presses," said Mason Watkins, the band's bass player.
In the liner notes for CD release, producer Jim Dickinson hails their Oxford, Miss., roots. While the band may have grown there, Shady Deal's seeds are from right here.
Lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Jesse Hammock, guitarist Jake Curtis, drummer Austin Marshall and Watkins are all from Sikeston. The sound has the unmistakable stamp of Southeast Missouri honky tonks with Watkins being a third-generation Southeast Missouri musician. Photographs for the cover art were shot in Blodgett.
Even the band's name can be traced to Sikeston. Shady Deal was the name of a graduation party that was held in Sikeston annually for a number of years, according to Hammock. The party got its name one year when a thief made off with all the food and beverage money collected for the event.
The band, which was looking for a name, experienced a similar mishap. "It was like our third gig," Hammock recalled, "and someone stole all the money we had made from the door."
The four Sikeston members formed the group in January 2002 and were joined by James Pendley of Shreveport, La., in November 2002 after meeting him through a mutual friend at the University of Mississippi at Oxford.
"We always had wanted a keyboard player but it's hard to find one around here, or at least we hadn't had much luck finding one," Watkins said.
It only took a few shows with Pendley sitting in with them for Shady Deal to know he was what they were looking for.
"Now he's as big a part of it as any of us," Watkins said. "He just really fits in."
Shady Deal started recording for the album in October. "We've been wanting to cut an album for awhile," Watkins said.
Bob Camp, owner of "The Camp" in Cape Girardeau, hooked the band up with Dickinson after being impressed with their shows at his club. In September, Shady Deal made a demo in Cape Girardeau to send to Dickinson. "He liked it and decided to produce us," Watkins said.
With Shady Deal's classic rock sound, Dickinson recommended recording to 2-inch reel-to-reel tape instead of digitally.
"It was a little more expensive but we're happy with the results," Watkins said. Both Watkins and Hammock noted the "warmth" of the CD as a result of taking Dickinson's advice.
As the band was paying for the studio time at Sounds Unreel in Memphis with their own money, they went in fully prepared with 13 songs ready to go. Ten made the final cut and appear on the CD.
"We recorded it over six days - we did it real quick," said Watkins. Shady Deal spent roughly three days laying instrumental tracks down and dedicated almost three days to recording the vocal tracks, he said.
"A lot of people go into the studio and spend months in there," Hammock said. "It's a little raw."
And if the resulting sound is reminiscent of the Allman Brothers, Molly Hatchet and other '70s classic rock icons, they come by it honestly. Hammock said he and his bandmates prefer classic rock over contemporary music. Watkins described the Shady Deal's sound as "Southern blues-rock with a little bit of a jam-band element to it."
The album's title, taken from the title of the only instrumental song on the CD, is open to interpretation by the listener.
"It could mean a couple different things," said Hammock. "Uplifting is how I look at it, I guess, or a load off."
"Uplifting" is also a good word to describe the overall mood at Shady Deal performances. "Everyone sees we're having a good time on stage," Watkins said. "We want to do this for a living - we don't want to get real jobs. We're putting our hearts into it."
The CD is available at Shady Deal shows, from the band members, or from the Website at www.shadydealband.com.