Chris J Norwood & The Knockdown Dragout with special guests The Rosemont Kings and Kirk Thurmond
Chris J Norwood
If the photographic evidence accompanying The Knockdown Dragout is any indication, then Chris J Norwood is a beaten man.
Beaten, maybe... But not out!
As Norwood sings on “The Knockdown Dragout” — the ensemble, album, and first single all share the same name — he is a fighter:
I know it don’t look good
They got me up against the ropes
I ain’t no light weight kid
I got the fight, the will, the hope
The “will” and “hope” part comes in as the Dallas-based songwriter — and now bandleader, commanding a Stax-inspired ensemble cutting tracks live on the studio floor in the same building where Willie Nelson made Red Headed Stranger — leaves behind his acoustic guitar to make the album of his dreams.
“I have wanted to make this record for a long time,” Norwood says about a passion so strong, he parted ways with his record label to be able to see his vision through. “If you were to come over on a Saturday afternoon, Otis Redding is what is playing on the stereo.”
The Knockdown Dragout cover the Redding classic “Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa (Sad Song)” in a joyous rendition that sits perfectly alongside Norwood’s originals.
“I had to include an Otis cover,” Norwood explains. You can’t help but feel good, and that’s what I love about soul music. Even the sad songs make you dance.”
Norwood had become tired of sadness.
“I’m disillusioned with the ‘sad bastard’ scene of singer-songwriters that I found myself a part of,” he admits. After releasing two records that reckoned with darkness and personal tragedy, Norwood wanted to make an album that was “just fun.”
A “knockdown dragout” is a phrase I used to hear my mother use,” he explains of the album’s statement of purpose, which also addresses his relationship with the music industry. “It’s essentially a fight between two people that is particularly bad.” Norwood’s decision to leave his label to make this album was actually amicable, but even civil closure smarts.
The same goes for Norwood’s surprise genre switch-up.
“I wanted to write some songs that I could actually sing to Carrie and dance in the kitchen to,” he says, alluding to one of the album’s standout tracks, “Dancing In The Kitchen,” a love song to Norwood’s wife.
“Finally! Songs that are about me!” Carrie Norwood, who also appears on the record as one-half of the background vocal duo, The Knockouts, jokes.
“Being a Knockout comes with attitude and sass,” she says. “The world is pretty crazy right now, but there is still love and goodness to sing about.”
After listening to the celebratory songs on The Knockdown Dragout, Norwood’s “will” and “hope” win this bout by unanimous decision.
Originating from a single block in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas, TX, The Rosemont Kings are an eight-piece band bonded by a love for classic soul and funk. The Kings layer 3-piece horns onto Stax inspired grooves with a dash of Texas Blues, and top it off with the smooth vocals of front man Kraig Loyd to create a sound that encapsulates the idea of “feel good" music. Their debut, self titled album is streaming everywhere now.