Don Gallardo’s is a strange case. A northern California native who moved to Tennessee in 2008, the singer-songwriter is one of the country and Americana scene’s true journeymen, gigging tirelessly at small clubs around town. His greatest success, however, has come not in Nashville, but overseas, where he regularly sells out 200-capacity rooms, a feat for an independent artist outside his home turf.
But it didn’t come easy. His first 2011 trek to the U.K. was a near disaster. Forty days prior to the tour, the promoter called to cancel, citing an inability to pay for Gallardo and his then three-piece band’s travel.
“I had all these things booked, so we went to the bank and got a loan and I paid for all of us to go over there,” Gallardo says. “We’re still paying it off, but I did it and the fans came and the name got out there.”
So much so that Gallardo rush-released his latest album Hickory in the U.K., a full year before its U.S. release this month. Due July 22nd, the project is available for presale on Friday, led by new single “Diamonds & Gold,” Gallardo’s response to musicians who don’t know how good they have it, however struggling they may be.
“I’d been hearing people talk crap about other songwriters, ’cause they’re getting success and they’re not. It’s an envy thing,” he says. “I wrote it as a positive reflection of where one should go. If you ‘should’ be getting success, then keep doing it.”
For the song’s video, Gallardo and his band set up shop at legendary Music City club Exit/In, where artists from Neil Young to the Ramones have performed since the venue’s inception in 1971. (It also plays a key role in Robert Altman’s 1975 opus Nashville.)
“I wanted to shoot at Exit/In because it’s been a staple to the Nashville music scene for years. Tom Petty, Jerry Lee Lewis, Willie Nelson, the Allman Brothers. . . any band that ever came through this city, most of them have played there,” he says.
Later this month, Gallardo will headline an album release show at the less storied but no less beloved East Nashville club the Family Wash, before a string of shows on the West Coast and a return overseas.
Here are Gallardo’s current tour dates:
July 30 — Hollywood, California @ the Piano Bar
July 31 — Los Angeles @ the Grand Ole Echo
August 5 — Charleston, SC @ Palmetto Brewing Music Series (with the Cordovas)
August 6 — Winston-Salem, NC @ Mac & Nelli’s (with the Cordovas)
August 7 — Atlanta @ Smith’s Olde Bar (with the Cordovas)
August 31 — Nashville @ the 5 Spot (with Aaron Lee Tasjan)