SONG PREMIERE: Aledo’s “Gypsy Heart”

By Matt Wickstrom

Much like the small town of Aledo, Texas struck black gold in recent years with an oil boom, Chuck Dennie has struck musical gold with his latest project Aledo, named after his small hometown a short 15 minutes from Fort Worth. Aledo’s debut EP, titled “Gypsy Heart”, is due out August 26, featuring five songs that explore the healing process from start to finish.

On the surface Dennie’s life seemed perfect — after enjoying previous musical success he became a pastor, and while he was always providing others with guidance it was he who needed it most. Nearly a year and a half ago Dennie quit his position as a pastor and checked himself into a therapy and personal growth program to seek help, where he rediscovered how powerful an outlet music was. “Gypsy Heart” is the result of the therapy and ensuing outburst of vulnerability by Dennie.

“This record in a lot of ways is a soul-searching record”, said Dennie. “Trying to get back to the innocence of being a child, so “Gypsy Heart” is definitely that reflection. It’s trying not to be afraid to be yourself and to be authentic in a world where a lot of people aren’t that way. I think occasionally I find myself in settings where I’m trying to pretend that I’m something I’m not. I don’t want to be that guy, but every now and then it comes out, so “Gypsy Heart” is my way of saying that I don’t feel like I’m alone in this — this is the way to have that expression to branch out and say hey, it’s ok to just show up and be me.”

For Dennie, Aledo isn’t his first musical endeavor. In college Dennie was a part of touring Christian rock band By the Tree, where he enjoyed much success before moving on to become a pastor. When Dennie got a record deal, he and close friend K.S. Rhoads, who produced Aledo’s EP as well as contributed his talents to the piano and guitar, packed up and moved to Nashville.

“One day I got offered a record deal and I was young — I thought what the heck, so I dropped out of college, and literally the night before I told K.S. “Hey, you should move to Nashville with me””, recalled Dennie. “(K.S.) responded “You’re crazy. You’re going to move to Nashville tomorrow?” and I responded why not and moved to Nashville. We picked up a uHaul at the last second for the trip. It’s been a really cool adventure for both of us.”

Going along with the theme of healing prevalent throughout the record, title track “Gypsy Heart” examines how the healing process first takes the one struggling to open up, and oftentimes when they do they realize how many others experience their same trials and tribulations. The track also reflects back on Dennie’s personal search for peace and love.

““Gypsy Heart”’s main line is “I am not alone” , and I found that the minute you open up and say here’s what I’m struggling with, more times than not you get a me too in response”, said Dennie. “I was scared shitless to say anything before then. I had tons of fear of what people would think of me — I was so prideful, so worried about my image and postering yourself, and now I’m at a place in life, not that that’s all gone away, it’s still there — but now I’m at a place where I’m trying to be more present and to really connect with people in a way that’s different than just saying hey this is what I do for a living, it’s more about this is how I’m struggling, what’s your life look like? It’s been a really fun place to heal.”

“Gypsy Heart”, the debut EP from Chuck Dennie and Aledo will be available on August 26. Keep an eye out on the band’s website for upcoming tour dates (to be announced soon), news, and more. Look below to listen to the title track off of “Gypsy Heart”.

 

 

 

 

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Read below for full interview materials from Big Blue Tunes sit-down with Chuck Dennie of Aledo.

Big Blue Tunes: Hello Chuck. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. I got Aledo’s record in the mail a week or so ago and have been enjoying it a lot. If I’m not mistaken, the band name Aledo was taken after the small town in Texas that you grew up in. Is that correct?

Chuck Dennie: Yeah. (Aledo) is a small town about 15 minutes west of Fort Worth. It’s not as small now as when I lived there. It has grown a lot in the last ten years.

BBT: Why is that? Was there an oil boom in the area?

Chuck: Yeah. They had a big gas finding that force-expanded Aledo, so it’s a lot bigger out there now.

BBT: I know the EP’s title track, “Gypsy Heart”, reflects back on your childhood. How has that time in your life impacted your music, and what was your creative vision for the EP?

Chuck: This record in a lot of ways is a soul-searching record. Trying to get back to the innocence of being a child, so “Gypsy Heart” is definitely that reflection. It’s trying not to be afraid to be yourself and to be authentic in a world where a lot of people aren’t that way. I think occasionally I find myself in settings where I’m trying to pretend that I’m something I’m not. I don’t want to be that guy, but every now and then it comes out, so “Gypsy Heart” is my way of saying that I don’t feel like I’m alone in this — this is the way to have that expression to branch out and say hey, it’s ok to just show up and be me.

BBT: I know you did a bunch of work with K.S. Rhoads on the EP, but how did the rest of Aledo come together?

Chuck: It was all mutual friendships. We all hang out together in Nashville and have all played in different bands, but we were all drawn to this idea of being not only in a community and hanging out together, but also just being at a place in life where we’re all trying to find that meaning of why did all of our roads lead us to this place? It’s been really cool to watch everyone come together — Thomas (Ewing) and his wife Debbie (Ewing) have joined on — Thomas plays drums and Debbie sings and does some key stuff. It’s been a really cool combination that’s shaped up and taken form.

BBT: and before Aledo you were a pastor, and before that you were in a prominent touring band called By the Tree. Can you tell me a little about that and how your musical journey got its start?

Chuck: So I first moved to Nashville with K.S.. We were both roommates in college and had a lot of stuff going on — I had By the Tree and K.S. would play with us and some other groups. I was travelling around the south of Texas. One day I got offered a record deal and I was young — I just thought “what the heck”, so I dropped out of college, and literally the night before I told K.S. “Hey, you should move to Nashville with me”. He responded “You’re crazy. You’re going to move to Nashville tomorrow?” and I responded why not and moved to Nashville. We picked up a uHaul at the last second. It’s been a really cool adventure for both of us — we both had our own musical projects but we remained brothers. By the Tree was more of a Christian band — that’s where my roots were, so I started that way and did it for about ten years. We enjoyed success in that world. Then I entered the pastor world for the next ten years. Now it’s an interesting place I find myself in. I’m definitely more in the mainstream world. It’s interesting, because my whole background is Christian-oriented, but I also find myself really soul-searching and trying to understand the depths of what that looks like and how I can be a lot more honest with myself. In some ways it’s been a really challenging process — Christianity is a place where you should feel like you can be yourself, but I didn’t feel that way, and now I feel a lot more at home in a place where people are really embracing the music and relating to it in a way that’s been very helpful to me on my own personal journey.

BBT: This next question is about a larger issue than just music, but you mentioned this EP has you very much exploring your thoughts and feelings — you make yourself extremely vulnerable. In the United States mental health is a growing issue so many people face today where they suppress their thoughts and feelings, causing them to often feel disconnected to those around them. How do you feel your music has helped you to be more open and honest with yourself and those around you?

Chuck: I think that’s been the hardest part of my journey. Whatever lie I believed I didn’t think it was ok to ask for help, and not only that I just felt weird to do that. Now I’m at a place in life where I know that if I don’t ask then I can end up in a place I don’t want to be in. About a year and a half ago I checked myself into this place I thought was some crazy psych ward, but it turned out being one of the best things I ever did in life. I don’t know what the future holds for me Matt, if I necessarily want to be a mental health advocate, but I’ll tell you this — everybody I sit across the table from, whether we’re having coffee or beer or food — if anyone is going through a tough time I’m really quick to sympathize with them and encourage them and say “man, I’ve been asking for help. I’d love to walk you through that process and see what help looks like”. And it may just be me, I don’t want to stereotype, but I was afraid to ask for help. I didn’t know what that would look like. I thought people were going to think I was on crack or that he’s lost it or gone nuts, but it’s the best thing I’ve ever did, and what I’ve found is when I open up an am vulnerable and go first and tell people I’ve been going to counseling and went through this crazy week-long, very in-depth group therapy kind of thing, and it’s really changed my life — it’s made my relationships better. What I’ve found is that I did believe a lie — I did think people thought I was crazy, and I’ve not had anyone respond yet with anything other than with words of encouragement or to say they’ve gone through similar struggles. It’s kind of a me too thing. It’s been rad finding that extra security in my life I needed to be more vulnerable.

BBT: Absolutely. It’s amazing how reluctant people often are to share, not realizing many people they know have experienced the same trials and tribulations and could really help them recover  and get past their barriers.

Chuck: Yeah, and I think there’s a couple of themes on the EP that really reiterate that same thought Matt — “Gypsy Heart”’s main line is “I am not alone” , and I found that the minute you open up and say here’s what I’m struggling with, more times than not you get a me too. I was scared shitless to say anything before then. I had tons of fear of what people would think of me — I was so prideful, so worried about my image and postering yourself, and now I’m at a place in life, not that that’s all gone away, it’s still there — but now I’m at a place where I’m trying to be more present and to really connect with people in a way that’s different than just saying hey this is what I do for a living, it’s more about this is how I’m struggling, what’s your life look like? It’s been a really fun place to heal.

BBT: Thank you so much for your time Chuck. I can’t wait to catch y’all on an upcoming tour stop.

Aledo BAND PIC

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One thought on “SONG PREMIERE: Aledo’s “Gypsy Heart”

  1. Hey Chuck,
    I really enjoyed this article and hope to meet you some day.
    Kent Horner (your mother-in-law Jolene’s first cousin)
    P.S…..Boomer Sooner…LOL

    Like

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