*The day after Muscadine Bloodline played at 1065, the band flew to Las Vegas to play in the Route 91 Harvest Festival. They played six hours before a gunman fired on the crowd, killing 59 people and wounding hundreds. Charlie Muncaster from the duo said, “One of the best days of my life changed into the worst in an instant.” They had just walked in the main gate to listen to the front of house mix when it happened. “We were lucky we were by the main gate and escaped quickly.”
Charlie Muncaster and Gary Stanton grew up in Mobile but didn’t meet each other until they moved away. Today they are Muscadine Bloodline, a fast-rising country band that is based in Nashville and playing across the country. They played to their biggest hometown crowd yet at on Friday night at the 1065 festival in downtown Mobile but there wasn’t much time to visit with friends and family before they flew out to Las Vegas.
Looking out over the crowd on Dauphin Street, they talked about their love for home between each song.
“We spend most of our time on the road. It is good to be home. We love you Mobile.”
The Southern Rambler talked with Muscadine Bloodline before their set at 1065.
TSR: Did you know each other when you were growing up in Mobile?
Gary: We knew of each other but never met. We had a lot of mutual friends and even lived a couple of miles away from each other but Charlie went to St. Paul’s Episcopal School and I went to Cottage Hill. The first time we met was the first time we played together at a show Charlie did at Soul Kitchen. Charlie was living in Auburn and I had just graduated from high school. We met that night and kept in touch.
Charlie: We both sing harmonies and sound good together. People ask if we are brothers.
Gary: I am five-foot-five and he is almost six-foot-six. We don’t look like brothers.
Charlie: The first time we really played together was when Gary came up to write songs. I had some shows that weekend and he sat in. We switched off songs and then it kept going, sitting in on each other’s gigs. We were basically dating.
TSR: How did music start for each of you?
Charlie: I got a guitar when I was in eighth grade and just played in my room. A friend was a bouncer at a bar at Auburn and let me play on a Tuesday night. They kept asking me to come back and this evolved into my dream.
Gary: I took a break from baseball my senior year of high school and started playing seafood restaurants in West Mobile. They were not sexy gigs but it was fun and my friends could come. In college, after the fraternity parties ended people came in my room and I played. I went through a breakup with a girlfriend and started writing songs. One went viral and I realized songwriting could be something. I started writing a song a day, got serious about gigging, and started a band in Hattiesburg. We started out with original music but ended up being a cover band for college parties because the money was so good. I was an entertainment industry major and always knew I wanted to move to Nashville. I moved the week after I graduated and Charlie came up two weeks after that.
TSR: Your career seems to be building fast. A year ago you played in Athens at a bar across the street across from the Georgia Theatre. A few weeks ago you played the Georgia Theatre with your band and sold it out.
Charlie: We still can’t believe it. We have to remind each other to stop and enjoy the victories. Late at night on the drives we say, “I can’t believe we just did that.”
Gary: We have been adding band members over the last year and are about to add another player. We run lean and mean. We don’t have a label or tour support and we are fully independent. We are investing into our band with guys who make us sound good and are building a good business. It grew to the point where we had to hire people to do the things we don’t have time to do anymore. We can no longer mail out the T-shirts or do the booking and now we have a great team.
TSR: How did “Porch Swing Angel” help get you started?
Gary: it happened by accident. It charted in iTunes and people started paying attention. Perception is huge and that is when our friends started realizing something is going on. It wasn’t as impressive as they thought. We were between a Jake Owens song that came out eight years ago and Luke Bryan’s first single.
Charlie: That was the turning point when people started taking us seriously.
Gary: We did a lot of shows with Luke Combs. He is huge now and we learned a lot from him. He shared his fans with us and gave us exposure. We played a venue in South Carolina that we had never been to and 600 people showed up. That was cool.
Charlie: We are lucky to have fans because we don’t get to do this without them. After every show, we go to the merchandise table and meet every person there. We love them for loving us.
Gary: We don’t hide anything. We are funny guys and normal dudes. People tell us they feel like they could have a beer with us. That is the best compliment we can have. We are grassroots and building this fan by fan. We are thankful for that person in each bar who was the first person to care. The industry has changed so much but relationships are the key to staying in this for the long run.
TSR: What does the name Muscadine Bloodline mean?
Charlie: We need to make up a better story for this. We wanted a name that rhymed and sounded cool. We were touring as “Charlie and Gary” or “Gary and Charlie” for a while. Everyone here knows what a muscadine is, but you would be surprised how many people don’t. It represents where we are from.
Gary: It is different enough to stand out and catch attention.
TSR: You just finished recording in the studio. Is a new album coming soon?
Charlie: We recorded five new songs. We don’t know how we are going to release it. Probably an EP, but we will have new music out early next year. We just got the masters back and it sounds great.
TSR: Charlie, your tattoo says, “Ain’t no point in getting out of bed if you aren’t living your dream.” What is the dream for Muscadine Bloodline?
Charlie: It is from a Sturgill Simpson song, “Living the Dream.” We want to be an arena band playing to many fans. We want to be successful playing music and then able to retire.
Gary: We are getting to do exactly what we want to do. I am enjoying where we are now.
TSR: 1065 will be the biggest stage you have played in Mobile. It is a big jump from the Brickyard and the front room at Soul Kitchen. What does it mean to play here tonight?
Charlie: It means everything to come back home. We are proud as hell to be from Mobile. Our parents and a lot of family and friends will be here tonight. We wish we could stay for a few days, but we play in Las Vegas in two days. I played at the Brickyard and our Mobile gigs started with ten people in the front room at the Soul Kitchen. It grew to selling almost 1,000 tickets for the back room. The Soul Kitchen is our home in Mobile.
Gary: We are so thankful for Soul Kitchen. We want to do an end-of-of-the-year show there when we have a few weekends off. Entertainment in Mobile is reviving. There was a drought here for a while but it is coming back. There hasn’t been a presence of Alabama in mainstream country and it is cool to be a part of country artists coming out of Alabama. Walker Hayes from Mobile is killing it right now. This is not a country music town, it is more roots music and the blues, so it is good to come back and create a place for country music.