Etta Place is a project many years in the making. It began on what was a typical night off for singer/songwriter Keith Michael: Watching old movies and scrolling Wikipedia for the back stories of the films and actors who played in them. This particular night, he happened upon a viewing of the 1969 classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Though Paul Newman and Robert Redford effortlessly kept the action moving, it was Katharin Ross’ portrayal of Etta Place that really caught Keith’s attention. From the moment she appeared on screen, the seed of intrigue was planted. Who is this character, Etta Place? What is her real-life story? A quick wiki search only raised more questions. His conclusion: this woman is a living ghost, mesmerizing and shrouded in mystery. Some deeper research revealed that her true origins and identity are debatable at best and, due the lack of records from the time, ultimately unknowable. Further, her final whereabouts remain in question, as if she simply disappeared into the ether.
For a time, Etta Place receded to the back of Keith’s mind. He wrote songs and relentlessly worked a circuit he had built around his Brazos Valley area home. From time to time, he entertained the notion of what Etta Place could look like as a band project. The romantic notions of outlaw lifestyle filled his imagination. Betrayal and loss. Train robberies and love affairs. Violence and freedom. Love. Slowly, a cohesive body of work began to emerge with these themes. In the meantime, he released an album in 2019, weathered a pandemic in 2020 and made a move to relocate to central Texas in 2021.
In the fall of 2021, Keith decided it was time to turn the Etta Place dream into a reality. He enlisted the services of YellowDog Studios in Wimberley, and David Percefull to produce the record. The day before recording was to begin however, Keith tested positive for Covid-19. With the studio already booked, production went ahead, using scratch tracks and demos provided by Keith. With David Percefull providing guitars and keys, Casey Johns on bass and Phil Hook playing drums, several of the tracks were constructed by the time Keith was able to get into the studio weeks later. Additional steel and slide guitar by Kim Deschamps bridged the sonic gap between rock n’ roll and country sounds, giving the record a cool Americana feel that the outfit was shooting for.
The patience and perseverance required to complete this record only adds to its shine. Complete with an interesting backstory surrounding its inception and the unusual circumstances navigated during production, the debut Etta Place record, titled Texas Heat is a truly unique and original record that will keep you bobbing your head, tapping your toes and singing along from start to finish.