Copyright © 2020 · All Rights Reserved · Stanley Earle Ratliff
This current entire decade of the “Teens” has found me residing in the magnificent, no other place like it… “Austin, Tx. U.S.A”…. I work in the tech industry and have met some of the most legendary music icons who reside here as well. We have made some very cool friends and ping thoughts at song writers’ work-shops, jam sessions, recording sessions, open mic nites, b s sessions, happy hour sets, working gigs, church socials, and everything else that has evolved my song writing skills, concepts, inspirations and depictions like no other place on earth…!! I had the blessing and support from some of these local, world class guitar virtuosos & engineers who’ve helped turn my music into my first solo album….
“These Visions” is slated to release sometime in the summer 2019. A great way to close a lo/hi/higher decade …Very Stoked!! We’ll see ya’ll down the road….S.E.R.
I suppose my first musical influence came from my maternal grandfather, who had been a professional grade musician back during the Great Depression. With minimal daytime work to be found as a young man, he often supported himself playing his guitar, dobro, fiddle and harmonica in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas… Just before I reached 5 years old, grandpa bought me one of those little Roy Rogers guitars and told me no matter where I went in life; I could always find friends and could afford a meal with music. I found that to be rather encouraging because I was still struggling with the shock and loss of my mother’s recent & tragic passing. I needed some security and it started with that little guitar.
Our grandparents took us 3 grandkids in and encouraged me and my 2 sisters to create a path to do whatever we wished to strive toward in this life; especially in the arts. My oldest sister, Pat was my first inspiration to sing. Pat was the superb alto vocalist in church choirs, school choirs, various live performance; ect and shared her experience with me. My youngest sister, Cathy Jo had taken up piano and would share her learned lessons with me. CJ’s piano was the first place I began to write my own songs…. I recall as a child seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan Show in ’64 and Ringo was who I decided that night to emulate. While as a young boy, my grandparents purchased me a little toy drum set that I soon demolished. Afterwards, they bought me my first real drum set just before I was 10 years old. Most of my friends and band mates were teenage guitarists and I was able to blend in with them early on as their drummer & welcomed into their bands. Particularly, my older cousin, Kerry Ratliff was a good singer & bass player & thus another early musical influence of mine; he’d take me into his band gigs to drum for him.…While growing up on our grandparents’ little Mississippi/Louisiana line farm, my sisters and I had our fair share of chores. We were only given some work leniency if and when we were studying school lessons or rehearsing music; so my sisters studied a lot & I practiced music a lot…;-)
Those all-day long practice sessions paid off when I joined the Elementary school band at 11 years old…. By the following year, my band director took me to the high school band director who tested and advanced me on to the high school band at 12 years old; where I studied drums and performed in the orchestra, marching, stage, and jazz bands. I grew up fast and that experience even awarded me a letter of offer to study at Julliard, but I had no interest in it. As an early teen, I was already playing in those country music roadhouse settings, getting paid and getting lots of recognitions and influences. I was also playing in what must have been one of the first contemporary Christian Rock bands that was forging electric guitars and drum sets into those little Southern country church revivals and causing quite the stir in the early 70’s….Likewise, we must have been one of the first ‘progressive’ country acts because we’d go in those die hard country music honky tonks and sneak in a few songs by Credence, Stones; ect. We’d dare not announce them. In those years we often had many of the same band members at each different event; whether we were playing in country music honky tonks, church revivals, juke joint blues clubs, or the many high school debutantes’ rock & roll birthday parties. In all those different venues, we were having the time of our lives; not realizing we were blending our own brand of music all the while….
Those experiences awarded me the capacity to maintain drums in some good hard rock bands of the early & mid-seventies and an every weekend residency for 2 years playing in a local night club. They’d have to sneak me in the back door and under hat for my under age of 15. I met ALL the hot shot local musicians from the area and learned a lot. Music really took off for me when at 17, I was picked up to play drums for Doug Duncan….Doug was a local seasoned veteran who’d just returned to our home area after working for a while with Jimmy Buffet. Doug was fronting his own act, called The Stone Valley Band. He recruited me as a rock drummer to play country music and he knew exactly what he was doing; even though it was unheard of at that time. His handpicked band roster of a rock solid bass player and singer/song writer named Dusty Polk, along with an elite high vocalist & lead guitarist with good original material named Larry Fortenberry, along with myself; and we took off as the first generation of an unheard of ‘progressive’ outlaw country music sound that evolved into what country music still sounds much like today. Stone Valley toured the southern U.S. for 5 long years, primarily playing one night stand type shows to packed houses of raucous devoted die hard Stone Valley fans. We also warmed up larger acts touring the area. We were NOT the most talented of musicians, but collectively we became one of the hottest acts around the central southern U.S. region. It WAS the experience of a lifetime. We were destined to have it all…. However, those days required a recording contact to hit the next level. Nashville was nowhere ready for the likes of us, and Austin was just beginning its run as an alt-establishment. So, we hit the studios anyway, honed the craft; received sponsorship and recorded 3 albums of material; though none were ever picked up for a major record label deal. That point began the usual exodus, starting with our front man, Doug. He left the road and went home to see to his young family and play a more local unpressured style of music. Doug wanted us to hit it all, or none. He was a visionary who saw it all from day one…Eventually, we all followed suit; acknowledging maxima us. Even the road crew was begging for relief, so I went home as well to tend to my young family obligations. We did however continue to play weekend local no pressure gigs under the alias name of Yeller Dawg for another decade; while inviting special guests, visitor set-ins, and various acts along the way. It was a blast to get away from all the distractions and back to the basics of good fun music.
The following decade provided me lots of music opportunities of intrigue. First, a 4-year run with my lifelong hard rock music friends Mitchell Harvey, Charles Poole, Jo Jo McCord, and Johnny Cole. It consisted of every weekend bar gigs, some good original song compositions, and lots of local fanfare. The next 2 years provided me a 3-nite per week in house residency in Laurel, Ms with a local blues guitar ace named Mike Miller. He released 1 album and I then ventured back to the resurgence of alternative country during the late 90’s…So, “Yeah Heaux Times” was my next music project with Daniel McClendon & Sonny Dailey. We recorded one very impressive self-titled album during that era of alt country.
The next decade of the “oughties” placed me in a well versed classic rock show band from Bogalousa, La. and also with a blues/rock guitar extraordinaire named Tony DeLaughter; plus back in the studio with my pal Doug Duncan. We released the “Aces” album in 2009. We’d also recorded a tribute album in ’06 just after our bassist brother Dusty Polk suddenly and tragically passed. Music was creative, abundant, and vast, but my day job in the automotive industry had also come to its 20-year end, so I left it all for Austin, Texas in 2011 to work in the tech industry and see how the next chapter of music would read…