Lance Blackwell is a lifelong Mississippian (hailing from rural Montrose and currently residing in Hattiesburg), and traces his musical roots back to gospel. “I grew up with singers all around me,” he says. “…My dad’s parents toured the gospel circuit here in the Southeast…I grew up in church singing with them. I was in the choir from a young age. That just translated into what I do now.”
Despite his deep musical background and ability as a songwriter, Lance had one major obstacle to overcome in order to find success as a performer. “I had a horrible stage fright issue, as far as singing my stuff out in public. It took me quite a few years to get over it.” By his late twenties, he started playing “out and about,” prompted in part by personal struggles that he needed to process by sharing songs. “It was just therapy,” he says.
He released his debut, Sins I Have Sown, as Ralph Nix and the Catfish Gospel in 2015. The album turned out to be a summation at the end of the band’s seven or eight-year career. (Lance adopted “Ralph Nix” as a stage name in honor of his great grandfather, whom he credits with setting his moral compass to true north as a young boy.) Today, Lance has a newly released album with a new group of musical collaborators. Good Ingredients, by Ralph Nix and the Guilt Birds, dropped in January 2023.
The new release features songs Lance had written previously along with a few penned specifically for the album. After a sojourn in Seattle for work, a return to Mississippi and re-connection with life-long musical friends, the record was born when “We came up with the idea to put an album together and went and locked ourselves in the studio for a week or two,” Lance says.
For the latest endeavor, they went to the Studio in the Country, in Bogalusa, Louisiana, notable since the early 1970s as the site of some iconic recordings by iconic artists such as the Neville Brothers, Stevie Wonder and Kansas.
By Dan Walsh