Stockyard Sessions: The Malpass Brothers Are Keeping Traditional Country Music Alive

From the sound to the look, Chris and Taylor Malpass are undeniably carrying the torch of traditional country music into the 21st century.

“Traditional country music is everywhere, it’s not on the radio, but the fans are still there,” Chris said. “We’ve got people who come to every show. We have a very loyal fanbase.”

They started playing churches with their father at a young age and by the time the two of them graduated high school, they were opening for Merle Haggard, who had an undeniable influence on a musical journey.

“I love his style and his singing and Taylor loves his guitar playing,” Chris said. “So every show we do a Merle.”

Every show means 150 or so a year as the Malpass Brothers h

TCC: You guys have had a longer than 20-year career, there’s got to be some good stories to tell.

CM: My favorite part of our career was probably working with Merle Haggard. We worked with him for seven years and the coolest thing with that was when I had graduated high school, I went out with him and Taylor was still in high school, so it was like a six-month period there where I was on the road with Merle. So, before Taylor came out, Merle actually called my parents and asked if it was okay if Taylor came out once he graduated.

TCC: If you had to pin down one memory with (Merle Haggard) what would it be?

CM: For me, it was right after he had major surgery. He had lung cancer, he had a lung taken out. This was six months after that, we played Bakersfield, California and it was going to be his first show back he was kind of nervous and just watching him that night work his magic for a 90-minute show after something major like that, hitting every note, being a true cowboy as you say, that’s a memory that stands out to me.

TM: Mine’s a bit weird, but one of the first times I saw him, he was cleaning up after Christmas and I walked in the house and he was wearing overalls and he was vacuuming the floor and he was smoking something. And I thought it was really cool, seeing him in a real world setting.

TCC: Tell me about your boot collection.

TM: We recently got an endorsement from Dixon Boot Company, they made boots for pretty much all of the stars back in the ‘60s and they have started Dixon Boot again.

TCC: You don’t just sound traditional, you look the part.

TM: We try to, we’re big Ernest Tubb fans, Texas Troubadors. They always wore colorful hats.

CM: I think it’s a big part of the show, dressing up, it shows respect for the audience.

TM: I feel like if you look the part, people automatically respect you. It’s just like if a doctor came in in a sloppy t-shirt and flip flops, do you want him doing surgery on you?

TCC: Tell me about your new album that came out last spring.

CM: So, our new record, we’re really excited about it because there’s seven songs we wrote on it, and co-wrote with some people like Shawn Kemp and Taylor Dunn. So, it was kind of a new project for us because it was more original and it’s really done well. Sleep When the Party’s Over, which we wrote with Shawn Camp and Taylor Dunn is in the beginning stages of a Grammy nomination.