By blending elements of Americana and Western Swing with the unique and broad flavors of a newer generation of string oriented music, Caleb Warren and his band, The Perfect Gentlemen, have found a way to bridge the gap between the music once found in the old time juke joints and speak-easies, with the newer generation of Americana style music. They fit nicely into the mold of new generation revivalists with their acoustic brass ‘n’ brew-grass tunes, raucous barnburners and heart-breaking ballads.
Caleb is from Adairsville, GA, a small city about an hour north of Atlanta. “It’s a beautiful, little city with a lot of southern charm,” he said, “and I loved growing up there. I grew up listening to music constantly. My parents weren’t musicians, but always had music playing in the house.”
Caleb started playing music when he was about twelve years old, he recalled. “My grandfather bought me my first acoustic guitar (I also played trumpet in the middle school band, but I was a pretty awful trumpet player) and he taught me a few Hank Williams Sr. tunes as well as some old gospel songs.”
A few years later Caleb bought his first electric guitar and started his first band. “I was in metal bands from the time I was fourteen until I was about 21. When I left the last metal band, I picked up my acoustic guitar for the first time in quite a while and began focusing on songwriting and the storytelling aspect of songs. Here I am almost 15 years later and I’m still learning and growing in my songwriting. That’s the fun of it though, isn’t it?”
Caleb began actively pursuing music as a profession about five years ago. He had been in construction and manual labor jobs for fifteen years or so and felt he was in need of a drastic change of pace. He started by just playing a few shows locally, but it snowballed into a fairly extensive tour schedule. “It’s been an amazing five years,” he said. “I literally wouldn’t trade our experiences on the road for anything. Music is not all I do, though. I also work as a manager at Chattanooga Whiskey Co. (a whiskey distillery in downtown Chattanooga, TN). It’s perfect because the company works with my touring schedule and is incredibly supportive of me and the band.”
Caleb admitted he wasn’t entirely sure what to call his music. “If I’m being completely honest,” he said, “It’s a melting pot of several different styles that I love. When I write a song it just sort of comes out of me, and it depends a good bit on how I’m feeling at the moment, whether it’s mentally, physically, emotionally, etc. Sometimes it’s Hot Jazz. Sometimes it’s Swing. Sometimes it’s the Blues. Sometimes it feels like it came from New Orleans, and other times like it came from the Appalachian Mountains. I think maybe it’s easier to explain all the different styles of music we incorporate into our songs rather than try to name it.”
In 2012, Caleb’s band started as a string band playing mostly bluegrass. Through lineup and member changes, they just naturally progressed to the styles of music they’re currently playing. “It has a lot to do with the guys in the band and their musical backgrounds maybe even more so than the style of songs that I write,” Caleb exclaimed. “We’ve got a band full of amazing musicians from all different musical backgrounds (straight ahead jazz, bluegrass, old time, etc.) and I feel like that really shows in the songs.”
“That’s one of the beautiful things about the music we’re lucky enough to be playing. There’s no specific demographic for this stuff. There’s something for everyone. We see folks at shows ranging from swing dancers in their early twenties to folks who are in their golden years and everything in between. It’s kind of amazing and humbling to be able to play music for people from so many different walks of life.”
Caleb’s band is not currently touring full time, but it seems that will be changing for 2020. The five piece touring band will consist of Caleb on rhythm guitar and vocals, Jonathan Mills (drums), Ian Blanton (upright bass), John Boulware (fiddle), and Luke Weathington (clarinet and saxophone). The studio band is a seven-piece adding Jason Collier (trumpet), and Mike DeSousa (trombone). “Our tour schedule being much busier than it has in the last year or two and I couldn’t be more excited about that,” Caleb remarked.
A typical tour is four days on, with one day off. “We try not to burn ourselves out especially if the gigs are three and four hour events. It also depends on where we are. Sometimes, if we’re in a city we’ve never had the opportunity to explore, we’ll take an extra day off for that. That’s one of the other amazing things about this life style. We’re fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see places we otherwise might not and meet so many wonderful folks while we’re doing that.”
Currently, the Gents are in the final stages of recording their first full length album, tentatively titled, Lady. “We’ll be releasing it this year and we couldn’t be more excited,” Caleb said. “We’ve worked incredibly hard on putting this album together and it’s definitely been a labor of love.”
By Greg Tutwiler