Outsider A-Side: 49 Winchester Delivers Something for Everyone with ‘Fortune Favors the Bold’

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo credit: Joshua Black Wilkins via New West Records)

Eight years ago, some friends from Castlewood, Virginia decided they wanted to start a band. At the time, they didn’t have their eyes on fame, fortune, or record deals. They just wanted to hang out and make music together. Before long, Isaac Gibson (vocals/guitar), Chase Chafin (bass), Bus Shelton (guitar), Noah Patrick (pedal steel), and Dillon Cridlin (drums) formed 49 Winchester. Today, that same lineup of hometown friends makes up the core of the band. For their latest release, they picked up Don Eanes to play organ, keys, and piano.

49 Winchester released their first full-length album The Wind back in 2014. Since then, the Castlewood, Virginia-based band has dropped a total of three stellar albums. Each one saw the band of buddies growing and evolving as musicians. Today, they released their fourth album which marks yet another evolution in the band’s sound. With Fortune Favors the Bold, the band combined southern rock, alt-country, and Appalachian folk with dashes of soul and gospel for extra flavor.

Not long ago, Outsider caught up with Isaac Gibson, 49 Winchester’s vocalist and principal songwriter to talk about their ever-shifting sound, how they got started, the new record, and plenty more.

49 Winchester’s Ever-Evolving Sound

49 Winchester’s Isaac Gibson: Our music has always shifted as our influences have shifted as we discover new music and different music. We’re in an unusual circumstance where all of us have basically lived our whole musical lives within the limits of this band. We’ve never had other bands. We started this right out of high school. All the things that have changed and what we’ve enjoyed and artists that we’ve found and listen to definitely play a role in influencing some of our sound. I think the biggest part of that is when I really fell in love with some of that alt-country stuff from the early-to-mid-2000s like Lucero, Drive-By Truckers, and stuff like that. When I heard the guitars getting louder and the big rock drum kits. That blend of rock & roll and country. I think that’s where we’re kind of living now.

Staying true to exactly who we are is something we’ve always put emphasis on – not wavering and trying to fit into any mold. If it’s starting to sound more like a country band or sounding more like a rock band, we do exactly what we want to do. That’s what’s benefitted us and gotten us to this point, so far. So, that’s what we’re going to keep going.

I’m not running from anything we made in the past and I’m not running toward something that we think we should do in the future. We’re just living in what we hear in our heads one show at a time.

Casting a Wide Sonic Net

49 Winchester’s Isaac Gibson: I think that’s what makes us so unique and kind of hard to put a finger on what to really call our music is how vast that range of influences is. Bus, my lead guitar player has been a metalhead his whole life. I was too at one time. I loved Slipknot, Lamb of God, and stuff like that. Looking back, it was always groovier stuff. But, I love soul music, I love R&B. We’re appreciative of a whole lot of different types of music. I think that’s why our music sounds the way it does. It’s just a conglomeration of six hillbillies playing what they hear in their heads.

Deep Roots in Castlewood, Virginia

49 Winchester’s Isaac Gibson: I don’t have any desire to be anywhere else unless it’s within the confines of music. This is where my family has been for generations. This is where I’m comfortable and where I know everybody. Everything I love is right here in Castlewood and I don’t see a point in going anywhere else.

It’s lucky for us that we live in a generation where you don’t have to relocate to Nashville or LA or Austin or somewhere if you want to get a career started. The internet allows you to share your music everywhere and still sit at the home place and still have a thriving music career.

Are 49 Winchester Hometown Heroes?

49 Winchester’s Isaac Gibson: To a degree, I guess. There are some people who say that. But, we’re just common as a shirt. We don’t care about that. It’s never been a part of our thing. I know that there are some people, like kids that are in high school now – we’re old enough now that we don’t know any kids in high school anymore but when we started everybody that came to shows was high school kids. Now, there’s a whole crop of kids in town who don’t know us personally that think we’re some big mammoth rock stars. But we’re just gettin’ it as always.

I think that being humble is very important and remembering the people that gave you the platform to jump off of to get to the point where we are today is important.

What to Expect from Fortune Favors the Bold

49 Winchester’s Isaac Gibson: I think that there’s a song on the record that everybody can latch on to. Somebody that loves rock music, somebody that loves blues music, somebody that loves country music, or R&B, there’s something there for them to latch on to. I think that’s what I love the most about the record. There’s going to be such a wide range of people that will find something to latch on to. I’m really proud of that.