Crate Digging is a recurring feature that takes a deep dive into music history to turn up several albums all music fans should know. In this edition, Amanda Shires reveals the powerhouse songwriters who inspired her career.
From her earliest violin lessons, Amanda Shires began mapping out her musical genealogy. Lanny Fiel, her music teacher growing up in Lubbock, Texas, brought her along on a quest to learn the local fiddle tradition: “the older tunes, the ones that weren’t written down, that were passed down orally,” she tells Consequence. “He introduced me to Frankie [McWhorter],” an icon of Texas swing music.
As a teenager, “My mom would drag me to Frankie’s house out in Turkey, Texas, or Canadian, Texas, and I’d go sit on his porch and learn. I’d try to remember everything I learned and then come back and learn more or fix things. Frankie’s the one who got me in the room with Tommy.”
Tommy Allsup, a former guitarist for Buddy Holly, hired Shires at the age of 15 for the Bob Wills Band. Though Wills himself died in 1975, the Bob Wills Band kept alive his songs and Texas swing performance tradition. Today Shires is 41 and her songwriting has traveled a great distance from where it began, but her own music remains intimately connected to the past.
That includes her potent new album, Loving You, made in loving collaboration with the late Bobbie Nelson and out June 23rd (pre-orders are ongoing). Shires first saw Nelson playing with her brother’s Willie Nelson and Family. This was “back when I was a side person in the Bob Wills Band… I saw her playing with Willie and I saw a side person, and that side person was a woman. And when I saw her playing, I was like, ‘There’s somebody that does what I want to do.’ That always stuck with me. And then she has effortless piano playing and mystery in the way that she is on stage, just a wizard.”