to perform at Opry
by Tamela Meredith Partridge
Nashville newcomers, Trick Pony, will saddle up on Saturday, September 28, and stampede the Little Nashville Opry with their unbridled brand of country rock.
Trick Pony, who derived their name from the 1980 Paul Simon movie, One Trick Pony, was initially created by Keith Burns (vocals, acoustic guitar) and his friend, Ira Dean (vocals, stand up or electric bass).
“I was playing in Joe Diffie’s band and trying to get out of the situation of being a side guy,” Keith says. “I always wanted to write and play my own music, but I got sidetracked. So, I approached Ira, who was playing with Tanya Tucker at the time, about starting a trio.”
Adding the vocal, harmonica and acoustic guitar talents of Heidi Newfield completed the trio in ’96.
“Keith and I hit it off immediately,” Heidi says, who had already been friends with Ira for many years. “We had a lot of the same influences. We were both big fans of Waylon Jennings and the outlaw country stuff. When he told me about wanting to have a trio, rotating lead vocals with one female and two male voices, I loved the idea. It sounded fresh and and no one had done anything like it yet.”
The high-energy trio spent years on the road creating their own sound, honing natural musical skills and captivating audiences. Lighting up the stage with their charismatic personalities while performing over 200 dates a year eventually earned the seasoned entertainers a steady houseband gig with The Wildhorse Saloons in Nashville, Tennessee and Orlando, Florida.
“That’s the great thing about not being solo,” Heidi says. “We have each other to work off of. We know each other backwards and forward, so we’re very comfortable working with each other.”
Chomping at the bit to land a major label recording contract motivated the hard-working threesome to perfect their spirited live stage show and songwriting abilities.
“All three of us are songwriters and wanted to have our own sound and our own material,” Heidi says. “Our favorite artists were those who wrote their own material and we fully intended to do that. When I was young, I’d flip over a band like Van Halen. Their albums would say, ‘All songs written by Van Halen.’”
Trick Pony, who co-wrote eight songs on their 2001 released self-titled debut CD, derived their signature sound by combining the strong musical influences of Fleetwood Mac, Dixie Chicks, Eagles, classic country and pure rockabilly.
Trick Pony’s frisky blend of three-part harmonies, singalong melodies and stellar musicianship sent their three singles, “Pour Me,” “On A Night Like This,” and “Just What I Do” galloping up the country charts.
“We wrote ‘Pour Me’ one night at Keith’s house when we were having a few drinks,” Heidi says. “It’s the first song the three of us wrote together. It fit us because we’re very lively on stage and we have this unbridled attitude. We knew it was a fun and catchy song, but we didn’t know how special it was until we started performing it live. Everybody always requested this song in our live show. They even made up dances to that song.”
Trick Pony’s favorite cut on their debut album is the Johnny Cash ’58 classic country hit, “Big River,” in which Cash and Waylon Jennings joined the trio in the recording studio.
“We wanted to cut an old song from the Sun Records days,” Ira says. “When I first moved to town and I was starving, Johnny Cash’s son snuck me into their house and gave me a place to sleep. Johnny and I became friends and I told him if I ever got a record deal, I’d like to record ‘Big River’ and asked him if he’d sing it with me. When he said yes, I’m sure he never believed I’d actually get a deal!”
After playing together for many years and performing countless live shows, Trick Pony never forgets the fans who helped them achieve their musical dreams.
“It’s the people out there, the guy that shows up on Saturday night to drink and dance and get rid of his worries for the weekend,” Keith says. “That’s the guy we’re playing for, and when you get a positive reaction, you know you have something special.”