To quote myself from my 2015 review of Vandoliers’ debut LP Ameri-Kinda: “Although Joshua Fleming enjoyed success with rowdy Fort Worth rockers The Phuss, he had an itch to turn down the amps and turn up the pedal steel. The result is a loose, faintly rustic supergroup called Vandoliers, in which Fleming is joined by a host of area talents: John Pedigo, Jack Russell, Cory Graves, Dustin Fleming, Guyton Sanders and Travis Curry.
“Country is, by definition here, a hazy destination, with Simon Says firmly in yee-haw territory, but equally compelling tracks like Wild Flower wandering further afield. ”
Today, Vandoliers, with help from State Fair Records, is re-releasing Ameri-Kinda, and to mark the occasion, have offered up a “bluegrass mix” of one of my favorite tracks from the record, Simon Says, which features the arresting vocal work of Amber Farris.
In a brief statement, Joshua Fleming discussed the origins of this version of Simon Says.
“My friend Clayton Smith of a band called the Rye Boys and I wrote Simon Says when he was in town the winter of 2014,” Fleming said in the statement. “We wanted to talk about domestic violence, and and we wanted to do it from the female perspective. The idea was to write a song where Dolly Parton would show off her tattoos, so to speak. On the original album version, I sang it. But, really, it was always meant for a female vocalist. So later we had Amber Farris of Somebody’s Darling come down and finally do it justice.
“John ... recorded it at his home studio, stripping down some of the elements from the original and giving the whole thing a more bluegrass feel. Sans drums, things like John’s banjo and Travis’s fiddle really shine. And cool as it is when I sing this song live, it’s just so much more empowering hearing a strong female voice like Amber’s delivering the message. This isn’t the album version, but we’re happy to finally hear the thing as it was truly meant to be.”