“We’d say we’re red dirt country, but up here in the rust belt, in coal country, on the edges of Appalachia, our dirt is a few shades darker. Our tone ain’t much different.”
Outside of the industrial ruins of early 20th century boom towns where
steel mills and coal mines thrived, and the rails were king, Cody Tyler &
Gypsy Convoy are forging their own path through the foothills of
Appalachia. With a long history that dates back to the colonial era, Cody
Tyler’s family has hunted the hard timbers, tilled the fields, worked in the
mines, and sweated in the steel mills of Pennsylvania for generations.
Cody’s father, a third-generation trucker, inspired Cody’s love of country
music and hunger for the open road from a young age. You might even
say it was bred into him. At just 25 years old, his musical journey has
barely begun, but his yearning to travel the open road on a song has
already taken him all over the United States as a solo artist. Now is the
time to get Gypsy Convoy rolling, too.
Cody and the Convoy may be from above the Mason-Dixon line, but they
have forged a country and honky tonk sound of their own that tips its hat
to the blue collar men and women of the Keystone State’s Appalachian
heartland. Gypsy Convoy, are a collection of battle-tested musicians that
have collectively earned their stripes sweating it out in bars and honky
tonks across the state for decades.
In 2020, the Central Pennsylvania Music Hall of Fame nominated Cody
Tyler & Gypsy Convoy for two Central Pennsylvania Music Awards for Best
Male Vocalist and Best Country Act. Cody was also a Top 150 vocalist for
Season 14 of NBC’s The Voice, reaching the executive producer callback
auditions in Los Angeles. In 2019, the band were the runner-up in the
Tumbleweed Country Music Festival Rising Star Talent Search, which
featured over 300 country music artists from the United States and Canada. The band was also a Top-3 finalist at the 2018 I-105 WIOV Showdown in the Park.
Currently, Cody Tyler & Gypsy Convoy are hard at work on their first EP which encompasses the sound Cody describes as "Black Dirt Country." Because the band is from Pennsylvania where the fertile farmland tilled by the Amish for centuries meets the rocky soil of the Appalachians, the dirt there is far from red. Cody opines that the sound of the band "ain't much different, either." All five tracks have a fresh sound and even added verses that breathe new life and emotion with the help of the band.
In addition to Cody, the band features an all-star lineup of the best musicians from across the Keystone State. The bass guitar player, Kenny Peffley, is an experienced songsmith who uses his 5-string bass and his doctorate in Rush-ology to drive the soaring bridges, choruses, and backing vocals into a psychedelic stratosphere.
On drums, Ken Mettam holds the rhythm section down with his disciplined clock, developed from years spent on the road in blues and jazz outfits, as well as in the US Army Band. He’s also a graduate of Berklee College of Music.
On harmonica is the postman-by-day Murray Perlstein, who enjoys disc-golf and fishing when he isn’t on the road delivering mail or traveling with the Convoy.
The newest addition to the Convoy is Lenny Casper on keys. Lenny brings a whole new layer of depth and blistering hot piano solos to give the Convoy a southern rock-esque sound reminiscent of the music on which Cody’s family raised him.
Cody and Kenny decided to form the band together when they were ready to move on from their bar band, Double Crossed. Murray, the harmonica player, came with for the new project as well. Kenny had played the bar circuit around Reading, PA for decades with just about everyone, and introduced Cody to Ken and Lenny with the intent of getting the best and brightest to work on the new project. With Cody’s
country background, the rock backgrounds of Lenny, Kenny, and Murray, and Ken’s jazz drumming background and formal music education, the band is able to craft a country sound with elements of various musical movements from the past century, giving the band its vintage sound.
The band’s main influences include The Allman Brothers Band, The Steel Woods, Waylon
Jennings, Merle Haggard, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, Rush, Willie Nelson, Tyler Childers,
Cody Jinks, Yes, Chris Stapleton, Genesis, Billy Strings, Marcus King, Little Feat, Brent Cobb,
Led Zeppelin, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, and many more.
“One to the Heart” is the EP’s only co-write, featuring the lyrical talents of Mississippi’s own
Billy Sayle and Travis Lamoreaux, also of Pennsylvania. The song was written by Billy and
Travis, and sent to Cody because they felt it fit him. Cody revised a few lyrics, and the band
took it to a rocking new level that led to it becoming their opening song at many live shows,
as well as the opening song of the EP.
“A Fate I Can’t Outrun” describes the life of a heartbroken and weary train engineer hauling
anthracite coal from Pennsylvania’s coal region to Chicago. “I actually wrote the song while
sitting at my day job as a substitute teacher. I had a melody in my head for the words, and
they just flowed out of my pen. Lord knows how many kids cheated on that quiz I handed out,
I had the blinders on writing the first draft of that one for a good twenty minutes.” He later revised the first verse while sitting at a railroad crossing just several hundred feet away from the same stretch of road where he was compelled to pull over and write “Eagle Tattoo.”
Bass Guitarist Kenny Peffley
Drummer Ken Mettam
“Ramble In The Hills” was inspired by a journey up PA Route 44 North, which weaves its way through the mountains of Lycoming, Clinton, and Potter Counties. Old fashioned bars and inns in downtown Germania and Waterville also appear in the song, following a “convoy” of drunks as they bar-hop their way to deer camp, an age-old Pennsylvania tradition celebrated by its Woolrich-clad hunters who turn out to be much better drinkers than sportsmen.
The story behind “Eagle Tattoo” began for Cody over spring break in 2015. He got a tattoo of an Eagle on his right arm with dog tags initialed “PEB” and “IRP” for his grandad and great-uncle. His grandfather was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard, and suffered a fatal heart attack during drill in Camp Drum, NY in the early 1980s, over a decade before Cody was born. His great-uncle was a paratrooper in WWII, and jumped with the 82nd Airborne Division on D-Day. He was KIA on 7 June 1944, and is buried in the American cemetery in Normandy. Cody’s grandmother and little brother have both visited his grave. In 2017, Cody’s little brother decided to join the Army, and he wrote the song while his brother was in basic training at Fort Jackson.
Harmonica player Murray Perlstein
“The song is me talking to him, praying that he’d best never give me a reason to add to my tattoo. I hope the day never comes that I’d have to put his initials on my arm.” In a meeting with legendary Grammy-nominated producer Dave Ivory, he suggested they finish the story of the song, which inspired the band to write a bridge that sends the song soaring into another dimension and back again.
Cody’s family owns a few acres in the northern tier of Pennsylvania, by the “PA Grand Canyon.” The tract of land and Cody’s experiences on it inspired “Playin’ With Firewater.” The acreage is so far removed from everything, it’s nearly impossible to find except with written directions. This song reminisces times spent in the backcountry, while also being mindful that things can go wrong if you can’t handle your whiskey. Cody wrote it on a cold day hunting whitetails, sitting at the base of a tree as old as the hills. “The deer weren’t moving that day, so I figured I’d write a song. I was so intent on finishing the song, an entire herd could’ve passed me by and I’d have had no idea.” This was the first song Cody had written that he was proud of, and it has evolved entirely and taken on new life since it was first captured on Cody’s acoustic EP, which can be credited to the band.
Toured the U.S. as a solo musician, having played shows in Pennsylvania, Hawaii, New Jersey, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Vermont, Texas, New York, Arkansas, Utah, and Oklahoma
Played at the pre-party for Cody Jinks' inaugural Loud & Heavy Festival at the White Elephant Saloon at the Stockyards in Fort Worth, TX.
Opened for Unknown Hinson, Justin Wells, Matt Woods
Song-swapped with Bryan James, Al Enzian, Chris Stewart, Chad Vaughn, Clete Bradley, Ritch Henderson, Moondawg Hall, and more.
Played onstage at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, TN, June 2018
Dark Horse Music Review featured Artist of the Week alongside Travis Meadows, Casper McWade, Chad Vaughn, Clete Bradley, Gethen Jenkins, Moondawg Hall, Ben Jarrell, and more.
Featured as "one of three top up-and-coming artists in Berks County, PA in 2018" by local music critic Ralph Janke, December 2018
Runner-up in 2017 Annual Summer Open Mic at the Circle Tavern in Avalon, NJ, hosted by the Roasted Beat, South Jersey's Entertainment Magazine
WEEU Sound Room Appearance:
WEEU Radio Appearance:
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