“We would say we’re red dirt country, but the rocky soil up here in coal country and the rust belt is quite a few shades darker than that.”
Outside of the industrial ruins of early 20th century boom towns where steel mills and coal mines thrived and steam engines thundered through the valleys, Cody Tyler & Gypsy Convoy are forging their own path through the foothills of Appalachia. The songs on their debut EP are the product of Cody Tyler’s musings while hunting deep in the Pennsylvania wilderness. With a long history that dates back to the colonial era, Cody’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. Like his family of truckers and travelers that came before him, his yearning for the road was bred into him. At just 25 years old, his musical journey has barely begun, but his yearning to travel the open road with his songs written from his tree stand have already taken him across the United States as a solo artist.
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 BestMale 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
artists from the United States and Canada. The band were also a Top-3 finalists 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,” which derives its name from the fertile dirt tilled by the Amish for centuries and the rocky soil of the Appalachian coal country. The feel of the songs is just as dark, as if they flowed down the mountains and into the Susquehanna River.
Bass Guitarist Kenny Peffley
In addition to Cody, the band features an all-star lineup of the best musicians from across the Keystone State. Bass guitarist 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.
Drummer Kenneth Mettam studied music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, the US Naval School of Music at the Little Creek Amphibious Base in Norfolk, VA, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA. He also spent two years studying with jazz musician and educator Joe Morello at his studio in West Orange, N.J. Kenneth spent two years touring the US, Canada, and Europe with Blues legend and W.C. Handy Award nominee, “Big” Jack Johnson and the Oilers. He has performed for the 389th Army Band and has performed as the show band drummer for Celebrity and Princess Cruises.
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 edge reminiscent of the music on which Cody was raised.
Cody and Kenny decided to form the band together after two years with acclaimed 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 getting the Convoy road-ready. With Cody’s country background, the rock backgrounds of Lenny, Kenny, and Murray, and Ken’s jazz roots 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.
Drummer Kenneth Mettam
“One to the Heart” is the EP’s only co-written song, featuring the lyrical talents of Billy Sayle and Travis Lamoreaux of the Facebook music blog Dark Horse Music Review. 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 had a melody in my head for the words, and they just flowed out of my pen.” 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.”
“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
Harmonica player Murray Perlstein
“convoy” of drunkards 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.“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 while hunting the hard timbers of northern Pennsylvania.
Keyboardist Lenny Casper
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.
Headlined the Keystone State Country Music Fest. Sinking Spring, PA, August 2020
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
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