(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that's happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
Sometimes, I discover new music in weird places. Like on television shows. But this was a first: discovering new country music during a television commercial. And even more bizarre, it was just background music in one of those GEICO commercials. This time, that little green gecko was doing some two-stepping, which is probably why I started paying attention in the first place. (I knew I liked the company's commercials, anyway, because they'd used Charlie Daniels in a spot a few years ago. The one with the tag, "That's how you do it, son." Remember that one?) This latest ad has the gecko and his British accent in a lively Texas bar, so I talked to Andy Stepanian, frontman for the band Wrinkle Neck Mules, to get the story behind the spot. The ad agency that creates the ad campaign knows the band, so when they were trying to recreate a Billy Bob's Texas kind of scene, they called the Mules. And their request was pretty simple: "Do you guys have something that would work? With a honky-tonk feel to it? Something that sounds like older country, with a Buck Owens feel to it?" The band sent over their song "Central Daylight Time," and that was that. "We've been playing for 12 years now and have already had success and a cult following all over the world. But it took a dancing lizard to shine a light on all we've done in the past," Stepanian joked. He told me the band members are heavily influenced by legends like Owens and Waylon Jennings. But in this particular song, I hear more of an Alan Jackson/George Strait/Dwight Yoakam vibe. Go listen, and see what you think.