Eugene Chrysler: Hillbilly Fun Park

Posted by Dee-Ann On September - 4 - 20171,798 views


Eugene Chrysler, a rockabilly/western swing band from Tri-state area CT, NJ, and NY. just released their fourth album called Hillbilly Fun Park. If you are into western swing and hillbilly you should check it out on their website (and if you’re not, you should check it too!):

It really sounds great!

But first we want to know all about the band, right?

How and when did you start.

The band started in 1981 (Yikes!) When I was in college, I even did a 20 minute mockumentary about the band that predates Spinal Tap by a couple of years.

The music style is a mix of a lot of Americana styles (that word didn’t exist when we started) It’s a combination of rockabilly, western swing, and honky tonk.

Who did influence you?

From day one, music was always a big part of growing up. My mom was a blues singer in the 1940s and I have an older brother who went to the Berklee School of Music. I guess I didn’t have a choice! My brother was into Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen and Asleep At The Wheel at the time so I got into it too. I started to discover that a bunch of tunes that they were doing were covers of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. I started getting into researching the music and started to discover the original artists. At the same time, I was really into the Sun Records recordings; especially Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash (I got to meet both of them later on)

When you write songs, where do you get your inspiration?

We’ve recorded 3 cds of original tunes. Usually some personal tragedy helps a lot! Actually there’s no rhyme or reason to how I write. Sometimes a great line will pop in my head and I’ll write a tune around that or a melody will stick in my brain and I’ll keep humming it until words start to fit. I’m a strictly a bass player so when I write, the chord progression and the rhythm of the beat is very important. When I wrote the title track for the new cd Hillbilly Fun Park, I was inspired by this old billboard on the side of the road in upstate NY. It ended up being the cd cover.

When we go into the studio to record, it’s a collaboration. My band, Ray Chrysler, Skip Kevens, Jeff Somerstein, and Tom Smith are amazing musicians. I might have an idea of how I want the song to sound, but they might come up with something better. (and they usually do)

Tell us more about Hillbilly Fun Park
I’m very excited about the new cd Hillbilly Fun Park. Like I said earlier, I’ve always been influenced by a variety of styles. This cd is a culmination of that. A little rockabilly, a little western swing, a little Sun Records, and a little bit of Eugene Chrysler. I’m also very excited to have Bill Kirchen on a couple of tracks. I’m a huge fan of his. He was the original guitar player for Commander Cody and I’ve been listening to him since I was twelve years old. If you were to have told me then that someday he would play on a song of mine, I would have flipped! No one can make a guitar so like he does. It’s amazing and I’m very honored.

We also have Cindy Cashdollar on a western swing track that is a tribute to Bob Wills. She’s an amazing steel player that I was fortunate enough to work with when she use to play with Asleep At The Wheel.

What are your do’s and don’ts on stage?


Always be on time. Always play at 100% no matter if there’s a thousand people in the audience or only two. Always be polite and treat the audience and the sound mixer with respect. Always put on an exciting show. The audience wants to be entertained. That’s part of your job.

Clothes are very important to use. I know it’s hip to wear jeans and a ripped t-shirt on stage, but that’s not us. Going back to entertaining the audience, we like to dress up with great outfits. I even have a Nudie Suit that was made for me back in 1993.

Music quality and stage fun are both essential to us. We like to roll right into the next song and not waste a lot of time gabbing on stage. We’ve been playing together for so long that one second of eye contact or one nod will cue the rest of the band into the next moment. We love playing music and I think that shows at our concerts. (I’ve also been known to play my upright behind my back)


Is there an artist you would like to work with in future?

There are a bunch. We’ve been lucky enough to open for Wanda Jackson, Robert Gordon, Big Sandy, and Billy Lee Riley to name a few. I even got to sit in with Asleep At The Wheel. I’d love love love to work with Jerry Lee Lewis.

Where would you like to play next?

We’ve played Viva Las Vegas a couple of times. That’s always fun. We would love to do it again. I’d really love to do an overseas tour. That’s the one thing we haven’t done. It’s a lot of hard work, but I still think we’d have a blast.

Tell us a fun story about your band or gig.

When “The Million Dollar Quartet” opened on Broadway in NY, we were hired to play the opening night cast party. We were instructed to play a quiet opening 45 minutes during dinner, take a break and do a couple more sets; the usual stuff. Anyway, we got to playing and never stopped. The set went on for four hours straight! Cast members got up and sat in. Musical director Chuck Mead sat in. It was a great night.

A similar thing happened also in NY. We were playing the closing night of The Rodeo Bar. (An institution in NYC where everyone has played over the years) It was a very emotional night. No one wanted to leave. We ended playing straight through until 4am. We finally had to stop when the bar ran out of ice and booze! Luckily there were cameras there capturing the night and we actually had our picture in the NY Times newspaper the next day.

Do you regret anything?

No real regrets, we just love playing. (it’d be nice to make a bit more money though!)

This not a regret, just a thought: audiences need to come out and support live music at the little bars across this country. Not just our band, but the thousands of bands who spend a huge amount of energy and time to get to the point of getting on that stage and playing. The audience keeps the music alive. Without them, we don’t get to play. The band wants to entertain. The audience wants to be entertained. When that mix is realized, the energy that is created benefits both sides.

Finish this sentence: we will never ever….

Stop playing our type of music



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