News Column

Wilson Fairchild embodies classic country

November 1, 2013


Nov. 01--When country duo Wilson Fairchild performs at the Plain Jane Music Theater in Stewartsville, Mo., this weekend, guests can expect to hear some originals, some covers and maybe even a tribute.

"There might be a few laughs, too," says singer and guitarist Wil Reid. "That's something we got from our dads."

The group's blend of traditional country and warm, down-home humor immediately brings to mind the Reid boys' rich musical heritage. Wil is the son of Harold Reid, the bass singer for the legendary Statler Brothers. The other half of the duo is Langdon Reid, whose father, Don Reid, was the Statlers' lead singer.

Despite the fact that the Reid cousins have been writing songs since they were teenagers in the early '90s, they didn't really make some serious noise until 2007, when Wil and Langdon wrote a tribute to the Statlers simply called "The Statler Brothers Song." They were asked to be a part of the medallion ceremonies and to perform the song for all of their "Statler dads" when the Statler Brothers were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Needless to say, The Statler Brothers have been a tough act for Wil and Langdon Reid to follow, even with the touching tributes. The music business boasts plenty of sons and daughters who have hoped to take the same path to fame as their fathers -- from Julian Lennon and Georgette Jones to Jakob Dylan and Marty Haggard. The Reid boys have faced a similar dilemma as those artists. But in the last six years, Wil and Langdon have achieved the balancing act quite well, embracing their Statler heritage while not simply riding on their fathers' coattails.

"It's absolutely a difficult shadow to emerge from. But that's not a complaint," Reid says. "Their legacy is and was so big, that unless we do something drastically different, it's hard to get around it. If we had decided we wanted to be a punk rock band, that probably would've been easier because people wouldn't associate it with what our dads have done."

A name change certainly gave them a boost. For nearly two decades, Wil and Langdon Reid were booked by the name Grandstaff. In fact, they recorded two albums under that pseudonym ("Live & Well" and "Circles"). As Reid describes it, however, the moniker gave them all sorts of problems.

"We had the most awful time with people getting the name right," Reid chuckles. "They would either call us 'The Grandstaffers' or 'Grindstuff' or 'Grandstand.'"

Reid says that they decided to opt for a name that sounded more like a country duo four years ago. They settled on Wilson Fairchild, which combines his middle name, Wilson, and Langdon's middle name, Fairchild.

"We've often joked that if the music thing doesn't work out, we'll open up a law firm," he says.

Laugh all you want, but that name change has played a small part in Wilson Fairchild's swelling success. In addition to opening for Toby Keith at the PGA Classic last year, Wilson Fairchild was featured on "Larry's Country Diner" on RFD-TV. The duo also took part in a DVD series called "Country's Family Reunion: Second Generations," which eventually aired on the same network.

Of course, recording a new album with a couple of acclaimed producers certainly helped the Reids gain some publicity. In 2012, Wilson Fairchild released "Country On," a seven-track record that was produced by Bryan and Gordon Kennedy. Bryan had written three No. 1 hits for Garth Brooks in his heyday, and Gordon won a Grammy for his work with Peter Frampton (Gordon Kennedy was also a co-writer of Eric Clapton's "Change the World").

Blending the Reids' influence with Kennedys', the album wavers between traditional country (especially on songs like "Country On" and "Come to Me") and sounds of the '90s that might bring about memories of Alan Jackson, Clint Black and Randy Travis (especially on songs like "Dude" and "Stuck"). More than anything, Reid says the duo wanted the album to bring together the classic and modern country fanbases, which have been splintering more and more in recent years.

"That's one of the nicer things that we've been hearing about our music -- that it bridges the old with the new, or at least a more modern sound. ... It at least bridges the gap to a few years ago," he laughs.

The title track serves as a perfect example. Reid says the pair originally wrote the song as "an anthem about being upset with what was happening in country music." Yet as they pressed on with recording, they re-evaluated their stance and felt they should try to advocate for more optimism and appreciation in the genre.

"It doesn't have to be a statement," Reid says. "We just want it to be a positive, driving country music song that everybody can get on board with."

Earlier this month, Wilson Fairchild released a new five-song album called "Virginia" that can be found on iTunes among many other digital destinations. The Reids teamed up with the Kennedy again for this collection, but they also got some help from Jeff Hyde, who performs in Eric Church's band and co-wrote several songs for Church's smash hit album "Springsteen."

Reid says the new album stays largely in that classic country mold, but the title track comes with a fresh sound.

"It's somewhere between bluegrass and Mumford & Sons," Reid says. "It just happened that way and we loved it."

You can hear new tracks from Wilson Fairchild at or you can pick up a CD at the band's two shows this weekend in Stewartsville. Wilson Fairchild will perform at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Plain Jane Music Theater. Tickets are $20 per person. To reserve tickets, call (816) 669-3001.

Shea Conner can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @stjoelivedotcom.

Shea Conner can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @stjoelivedotcom.


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