A legendary music producer who managed one of the biggest pop bands in the world has taken an interest in a Tallahassee act. The two members of “Boo Radley” hope it’s a solid chance to hit the big time.
However, for one-half of Boo Radley, this would be a second go-around when it comes to the big time.
“I’ve been famous,” smiled the duo’s singer/guitarist Michael Turner. “I’ve had number one songs on the radio, I’ve been on MTV in 8 countries, I’ve played in front of 40, 50 thousand people. But that’s not what it’s about for me. For me it’s about the songs and making a difference. A song can change somebody’s life.”
And for Turner, it was another songwriter who changed his. Her name is Patty Matson and the two became partners, in both songwriting and life. She says the combination of her talents with Turner’s has unleashed something almost mystical.
“Well first off something is writing through us,” Matson insisted as Turner nodded agreement. “We’re not responsible. We’re conduits.”
Although both Matson and Turner have musical backgrounds in the heavier grades of rock n’ roll, their collaborations have generated songs with gentler music, but heavier emotional content in the words that tap universal human situations.
“We’ve got a song now called ‘Come on Home’ that we call a ‘happy little ditty’,” Turner said. “But it’s really about two people who are cheating on each other and they’re miserable people, but they’re saying, ‘let’s give it one more try’ and we think someone might hear that song and hear the lyrics and go, that’s me.”
To the artists that connection is what their songs are all about.
“And what a compliment when someone says that to you ‘it feels like you wrote that song for me,” Matson exclaimed, with Turner completing the thought, “Somebody said that recently. We’ve had some really great feedback from our audiences and from folks we know.”
Matson said that’s not the only gratification.
“We are doing social work on that stage and it’s amazing because people come up to us in tears saying, ‘That song really touched me.’ And it’s therapeutic for us because we’ve been through our fair share of struggles. For me, writing it down on paper and ultimately turning it into a song just really helps you process the stuff that you’re going through.”
All very satisfying for everyone, for sure. But when a guy named Fred Vail expresses an interest in your music, that bumps things up to a very different altitude. In the 1960s Vail first booked, then produced the Beach Boys. He also worked with John Denver, Johnny Cash, Issac Hayes, Keith Urban and scads more top artists. Through a series of fortunate events, he heard about Boo Radley and approached Turner with an offer to help the duo move their careers to the next level. But Turner had three conditions.
“I said one you have to think we have hit song potential. Second, you have to help us get it recorded where they don’t go, ‘where’s the band?’ because we’re one guitar and two voices. And he said, ‘Okay.’ And the third thing is you have to be the solicitor. You’ve got to take this stuff out and walk it into the record labels and Patty needs a manager.”
The deal was struck and all parties agreed on a five-track EP or extended play record. But in the meantime Matson and Turner kept on writing and Vail decided the latest tracks were too good to leave off the final product.
“So we ended up doing 7 songs and the two newest songs are the first two songs on the record,” Turner said, “So it turned out kind of crazy and he called me back in the fall and said, ‘Why are we not getting working on this thing?’ And I said, ‘Dude we don’t have enough money. We’ve only got about $10,000 raised.’ And he said,’I don’t care; let’s get started,’ and I said, ‘Okay!’"
So the basic tracks are recorded, but now the mixing and mastering have to be done and that means more money. This past weekend, Boo Radley did a fundraising performance at the Junction on Monroe. And, should the couple go on to ultimately reach the elusive brass ring of stardom – or at least comfortable success – Turner said they want to help make their hometown even more of a musical hot spot.
“It already is in the level of talent and artistry, but there’s just something that’s keeping people from coming together and realizing we’re all in this thing together. I don’t know what it is. But living in Nashville and L.A., I can tell you unequivocally that there is more talent in this area than in those places.”
But first, Boo Radley has a record to get out.