By Chase Rheam
STILLWATER, Okla. —
In a town classified as the birthplace of Red Dirt, West 51 is automatically labeled as such, said Corey Redding, one of two founding members.
“You know, people just hearing us or seeing us, people would, I would say, automatically classify us as the ‘red dirt,’” he said.
But while Redding and co-founder Matt Cox admit that their singing style and guitar playing have been influenced by Red Dirt, they say they are different.
“I really wouldn’t classify us as Red Dirt,” Redding said. “I think really Red Dirt is more geographical than anything.”
Stillwater native Redding has spent time playing with some of Stillwater’s famous musicians. He said he grew up in the “heart of Red Dirt,” when it was all happening. However, the environment and influence of Stillwater has been a big influence.
“We saw, hey, there’s an opportunity here to play this music and we don’t have to be in Nashville and we can follow in the footsteps of guys like Jason Boland and Cross Canadian Ragweed and those bands that came out of here that have been fairly successful,” said Cox.
Cox and Redding first met through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes band in college.
“We were the praise and worship team for FCA and then we started playing open mic night at Willie’s ...,” said Redding.
The manager of the bar was impressed and asked the two if they would mind playing a weekly gig every Friday.
“We did the acoustic thing for quite a few years and we played all over the place,” said Redding. “Just wherever we could.”
In three years, Redding decided to stay in Edmond, where he had moved, because of his daughter’s birth, while the Tulsa native Cox graduated college at Oklahoma State University. The band went on hiatus, and Cox played guitar for another band in Stillwater.
He met fellow band member Chad Dubois through his girlfriend at the time; Dubois was the girl’s brother. Dubois was a songwriter and musician who had moved to Oklahoma from Seattle. Redding eventually rejoined West 51, and the band was rounded out with drummer Daniel Clark and keyboard player Isai “EZ” Mireles.
The group’s first CD titled “Nowhere Town” was good, but fit no theme, he said.
“Every song is different because we fit no category,” he explained.
He said they have finished working on an EP recorded in Nashville that will be released soon.
“This one, we shifted our focus,” said Cox. “We wanted to keep the songwriting integrity intact, but write stuff that was more radio friendly, more listener friendly.”
The group is using the Internet as an instrument for releasing the new EP one single at a time.
“We do everything on our own,” said Cox. “Even the website’s design has been done on our own. The release of the music has all been done on our own."
Click here for more information on West 51.