Highway 101 Biography
From the moment they formed, Highway 101 presented a new approach to country music. The group's blend of country roots and tradition with rock and roll energy helped to catapult the country genre forward, tapping a whole new audience and paving the way for such mass appeal artists as Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Tim McGraw.
It all began when a very talented group of musicians, Jack Daniels, Cactus Moser, Curtis Stone and vocalist Paulette Carlson pooled their collective talent and experience in the areas of rock and roll, country music, songwriting and performance. These experiences all figured into the group's first recording session, which took place at Amigo Studios in Los Angeles.
Their special sound was established after recording “The Bed You Made For Me”, which prompted Warner Brothers Records to turn their singles recording contract into an album deal. By 1986, the group was in Nashville finishing up with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's producer Paul Worley on their self-titled debut.
The result was Highway 101, a stunning album with a style that had never been heard before in the world of country music. The album also yielded four top 5 hits, including two number ones, "Somewhere Tonight” and “Cry, Cry, Cry”. As the group evolved into a country sensation, their appearances on both stage and TV increased, including a North American tours with Randy Travis and George Strait and a debut television appearance at the 1987 Country Music Association awards with Hank Williams Jr. Practically overnight, Highway 101 was in demand as country's most exciting outfit.
The group was now well in gear, traveling the U.S. and Canada providing their fans with everything from Roger Miller classics to Dire Straits hits, in addition to their own material. The group was able to present such a diverse musical act because, according to bassist Curtis Stone, there were no rules. “It didn't matter as much what the song was, but how we made it sound. That was constant.” recalls Stone.
Their level of success was more than constant as Highway 101 continued to climb the charts with their sophomore release Highway 1012, which spawned four top 10 singles including the number one hit “(Do You Love Me) Just Say Yes”. 1988 provided more than hit singles as the group was recognized by their peers, receiving the nod as “Vocal Group Of The Year” from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. They were also acknowledged at the Grammy Awards with a nomination for “Album of the Year” and “Single of the Year”. By this time, the group's sound was breaking some molds in country music and this seemed almost revolutionary to many at the time. Highway 101 was the first country band to feature aggressive production fronted by a female singer.
By 1989, the group was still atop the wave of popularity with their third album titled Paint The Town, another number one single “Who's Lonely Now”, and a repeat performance as “Vocal Group of the Year” with The ACM and the CMA. Accolades and acknowledgments abounded in North America and abroad.
After the departure of Carlson in 1990, the band found a fresh, high energy sound with the addition of new lead vocalist Nikki Nelson. True to their original musical vision, in 1991 they released the album Bing, Bang, Boom on Warner Brothers. The title song from this album became the fastest rising top 10 hit in the band's history, followed by “The Blame” at #10, and “Baby I'm Missing You” top 30. This album spawned another top 40 hit, “Honky Tonk Baby” and the group was nominated once again for “Vocal Group of the Year” by both the ACM and the CMA.
The critically acclaimed album The New Frontier, produced by Curtis Stone and Cactus Moser, was released in 1993 on Liberty Records. Highway 101 was again nominated for “Vocal Group of the Year” by the ACM and CMA.
With 1996 heralding the 10th anniversary of the band, three of the original members, Carlson, Daniels and Stone, regrouped to record new material, and the result was two albums containing the new material, as well as their greatest hits. The first of these albums, Reunited (one of Country's first interactive CD's), was released in 1996, and the second one, Latest and Greatest was released in January 1997. Both on Kardina/Intersound Records.
1997 found Highway 101 again mixing the new with the old. Founding members Curtis Stone and Cactus Moser combined their talents with those of Chrislynn Lee, a brilliant new vocal talent, formerly with George Jones, and veteran guitarist Charlie White. Together they wrote, produced, directed and starred in their latest album, Big Sky.
In 2002 Charlie White left the band to pursue writing and producing, leaving the guitar slot open for 22 year old guitar slinger, Justin Weaver. Justin has been on the road since he was twelve and spent the two years prior to Highway 101 with Andy Griggs. A master acoustic guitarist, supreme mandolin player and, as far as electric guitar goes, his aggressive style fits right in with Chrislynn, Cactus and Curtis. He brings a feisty new enthusiasm to the band, and their road show has gone to an even higher plateau. They have plans to get back into the studio in 2003 to record their tenth album.
Since their original inception and throughout their various incarnations, the band has always enjoyed a great deal of success with records and live performance. Drummer Cactus Moser states, “One of the reasons we have continued to be successful over the years is because we always strive to maintain the same musical integrity in our live shows as on our records. For that reason, we tend not to record things that cannot be reproduced live.”
According to Highway 101, the band's belief in the music remains their constant vision. “We still share the sincerity about the music and never pretend to be anything but what we are --- a band that loves to play!”