From childhood friends in small town Appalachia to playing in front of thousands at festivals around the world, 49 Winchester’s hard-driving sound and down to earth songs have persisted, piercing the collective ears and hearts of listeners.
Across four albums and a decade on the road, together the group from southwest Virginia — Isaac Gibson, Bus Shelton, Chase Chafin, Noah Patrick, Tim Hall and Justin Louthian — has risen from country music upstarts into one of the industry’s stars of tomorrow.
It's culminated in signing to esteemed label New West Records for 2022’s Fortune Favors The Bold and a nomination at the 2023 Americana Music Awards for Duo/Group of the Year.
Reflecting back on the band’s ascent, we’ve gathered together our 15 favorite songs from 49 Winchester below.
Even when encountering one of country music’s most common tropes, 49 Winchester finds a way to turn heads.
Take 'Veruca Salt', which plays on the infamous Willy Wonka character to depict a manipulative lover that he’s grateful to have in his rear view mirror, singing “And it ain't no wonder this bridge was bound to burn”.
Here, Gibson explores the dichotomy between Jim Beam and Jesus; one washes away his inhibitions, while the other washes away his sins.
The internal battle between alcohol and religion is one that countless people encounter, so to hear the relationship between the two put so bluntly is as suprisingly humorous as it is refreshing to hear.
People rarely make waves by being quiet and timid. Instead, you’ve got to go big and bold, which Gibson and 49 Winchester do on 'Fortune Favors The Bold'.
The title track from their 2022 New West Records debut, the song is an anthem about taking initiative rather than sitting around waiting for things to fix themselves, which is exactly what the band has done on its road to success.
A hellacious hangover and heartbreak come together on 'Blue Ribbon Blues', a song recorded for the band’s self-titled debut record in 2014 and later the four-song Bigtone Sessions EP in 2020.
Throughout each of their four albums, tear in your beer tunes have been a staple for 49 Winchester, with 'Blue Ribbon Blues' being one of the earliest and most everlasting examples.
Gibson can’t shake his own thoughts on 'Annabel', the opening cut from Fortune Favors The Bold, that mixes tight group harmonies with the band’s country rock soundscapes.
On it, he details a burning flame of love - one that's fizzled out due in part to his own inability to open up emotionally - that’s left him in his own personal hell.
Alcohol and religion are again front and center on 'Get Clean', a tale about using faith as a tool to overcome the grip of substance abuse.
On it, the main character is showered with support from his lover, his mother throughout his journey to shake his addiction, acting as a vignette into the countless lives of those battling their own vices on the road to getting clean.
The title track from the band’s second full-length release in 2018, 'The Wind' is a rollicking anthem of loving and growing together that fully hits home on the band’s Appalachian soul and southern rock roots.
Sometimes people change and move on, and there’s nothing you can do except write a song about it. That’s exactly what Gibson did with 'Chemistry', a story about someone he grew close to that abruptly moved on to be “wrapped up in the arms of some wolf in sheep's clothing”.
What do you do when inflation knocks the cost of your Coca Cola up to two and a dime?
Hop on into the holler and mix your own batch of moonshine, of course! Gibson does just that on 'Hillbilly Daydream', showing off his Appalachian ingenuity in the process.
Another tear in your beer tune similar to 'Blue RIbbon Blues', 'Damn Darlin’' sheds light on a make-believe heartbreak at Nashville’s Exit/In on Christmas Eve 1995.
The song boasts some of Gibson’s most vivid songwriting yet, as he describes the night and its compounding sadness, from lying to the barkeep about being sad to his ex’s favorite song being the first to play from the jukebox there.
A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, and on 'Long Hard Life', that ends between a rock and a hard place.
The lead track from 2020’s III, the song tells the story of a fella resorting to illegal measures to make money, until he’s discovered and thrown in jail by the police with nothing to show for it but “13 acres of property, 3 dogs, 2 kids, & 1 wife".
Touring may not be all glitz and glamor, but as Gibson tells it on 'All I Need', the dream of pursuing his musical passion more than makes up for snoring bandmates and being packed into a van like sardines inside a can.
The tongue in cheek tune excels in illustrating realities of a life on the road, while making clear that he and his bandmates wouldn’t have things any other way.
It’s one thing to love and be loved when things are going well, but when things are rough is when you find out who truly stands behind you.
On 'Everlasting Lover', Gibson shares how the persistent love of his partner lifts him up during his lowest moments, like returning home “weary from the road and half beaten down” from tour, making him feel “Like I ain't just some dude” and filling him with gratitude.
Sometimes you can’t escape your worries and problems no matter how far you get away from them.
Such is the case on 'Hays, Kansas', which sees Gibson ruminating on his liquor habits and the need to act his own age, while stranded overnight in the small Kansas town with nothing but an auto parts store and mall to distract him.
Even with all of the band’s recent accomplishments and adventures, there’s still no place like home.
Gibson sings about just that on 'Russell County Line', a heartfelt ballad about getting back home to Southwest Virginia after a long stint on the road. The song has taken on a life of its own, not only acting as a love letter to the group’s hometown, but all of small town Appalachia.
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