Stoney LaRue isn’t much of a studio junkie. The Red Dirt pioneer has only produced two studio albums since he began playing bars around Stillwater and Norman more than a decade ago, and there was a six-year gap between his debut The Red Dirt Album and 2011 hit Velvet.
Yet the Oklahoma native routinely sells out many of the 250-plus gigs he plays each year, a testament to his ability to keep things fresh for himself and his fans alike with deep cuts and new spins on old favorites.
“The fans still come out to the shows, because the music doesn’t get old. I try to keep it multifaceted, that you won’t hear the same song in the same way,” LaRue said. “I’m not stapled to a label telling me what to play, so I’ve got the freedom to do whatever I want and no pressure to push too fast or too far with songwriting. It’s not a job if you love what you do, and I want to keep loving what I do.”
LaRue, whose Saturday performance is in support of Gov. Mary Fallin’s OKStrong Disaster Relief Fund, is proud of his independence, and it doesn’t come with a lack of opportunities. He’s signed to Carnival Music as a songwriter, crafting tunes for other artists when not working on his own music. The label’s owner, Frank Liddell, has, in turn, taken to producing LaRue’s records when not working with the likes of Miranda Lambert, Lee Ann Womack and the Eli Young Band.
LaRue will re-enter the studio with Liddell later this month to record his follow-up to Velvet. The album is slated for release in the first half of 2014.
“[Liddell] came up to me wanting to do this project, and it was an honor,” LaRue said. “People are knocking down the door to work with him, and he actually approached me. It’s a unique situation, but hey, it’s a unique time.”
LaRue has seen the time and work pay off, bringing a confidence and levelheaded, veteran attitude into his third proper record.
“It’s more seasoned writing,” he said of the new material. “I’m still trying to evoke some sort of thought process in people looking for a different way of thinking about things. It’s a little more abstract … less black and white.”
LaRue’s plans aren’t radically different heading into the release of the yet-to-be-titled album, however, with 250-plus nights out across bars, saloons, honky tonks and ballrooms planned for next year. It’s just another bookmark in what looks to be a long story.
“It’s step two … Well, shit; it’s more than step two,” LaRue said, laughing. “It’s the next chapter. Instead of waiting five years and redefining my situation with the world, it’s more about being in the practice of doing it. Music is art and it’s a process. This is just moving forward in that process.”
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