Were he still living, today would have been Eddy Arnold's 94th birthday. Though the singer passed away in May 2008, there is still a huge reason for celebration, with the announcement of the opening of Plowboy Records.
Launched to celebrate and nurture the legacy of the original "Tennessee Plowboy" -- Arnold's nickname -- the label will also provide a home for recorded projects that focus on American music regardless of genre.
Plowboy's founders are Arnold's grandson and musician Shannon Pollard, author and music historian Don Cusic, and punk legend Cheetah Chrome.
The first Plowboy Records release will be a new album from Bobby Bare, the Grammy award-winning outlaw artist who has over 30 Top 20 singles. Bobby is currently recording at famed RCA Studio B in Nashville cutting a mix of traditional folk and blues songs, and contemporary Americana with a band that includes Buddy Miller, Randy Scruggs and other members of Robert Plant's Band Of Joy.
Pollard told Billboard that the idea for the label came about through his managing the estate of Arnold. "I had been looking for an avenue to re-introduce younger folks to his legacy, and what he was a part of for country and pop music history as well. The idea of doing a tribute record was something that had been there before he died, but more so after he passed away."
Pollard wanted to give life to Arnold's legacy, but do it in a new and exciting way than was the norm. "Basically, I wanted to take a different approach to his music, and take some artists from different types of genres and take a fresh approach to his music. I wanted to take a more creative way to do a tribute record. Through the conversations with Don Cusic, who had done a book on my Grandfather, I learned that we could do a project on Bobby Bare, which would be a perfect segue way in getting the label off of the ground. That would be a great kick-off, and then we could follow up with the tribute album. From a timing perspective, it's worked out very well."
Pollard says that the label hopes to provide an eclectic sound of music for the buying public. "We want to be very open-minded to things that are interesting, that doesn't nail us down to one specific genre."
With that mindset, Bare is a good place to start. "He does represent the old school Nashville system, but he brings such a delicate sensibility to it," said Pollard. "He's very deep and thoughtful. I think he's very excited about it." Bare was label-mates with Arnold on RCA years ago.
As for the tribute album, Pollard said he couldn't reveal participants just yet. However, he did confirm that "We have locked in a few artists so far. We are spanning multiple genres from the rock and roll end, over to traditional country as well - and a lot of stuff in between."
The diverse musical sounds of Plowboy go hand in hand with the musical philosophy of Eddy Arnold - whose hits were a mixture of traditional favorites such as "Bouquet Of Roses" and "Cattle Call," as well as "What's He Doing In My World" from his "Nashville Sound" stylings of the 1960s. Pollard said "For better or worse, he did irk some in country music when he crossed over, but I'm grateful he did, because that helped to fuel the fire for the Nashville music industry as well. A lot of other people who would have never have turned their radio dial over to Country music did so because they wanted to listen to Eddy Arnold songs. I think he'd be happy with it."