How Long Have The Red Clay Strays Been Together?

The Red Clay Strays are an Americana band based out of Mobile, Alabama. Formed in 2015, the band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Brandon Coleman, bassist Ryan Clackley, drummer Justin Smitherman, and guitarist Will Stokes. Known for their Southern rock-influenced style and high energy live shows, The Red Clay Strays rose to prominence after the release of their 2017 debut album Solemnly Swearing. They have developed a loyal fanbase through constant touring and their unique blend of country, blues, and roots rock.

Band Formation

The Red Clay Strays originally formed in Mobile, Alabama in 2016 (About — Red Clay Strays). The band came together when lead singer Brandon Coleman met guitarist Zach Nix and drummer John Hall in high school. They started playing shows together around Mobile and began to gain a local following (Music Spotlight: Red Clay Strays).

Original Lineup

The original members of The Red Clay Strays were Brandon Coleman (lead vocals, guitar), Johnny Banks (bass guitar), Alex Ross (keyboards), and Michael Lamb (drums). The four founding members met while attending Murphy High School in Mobile, Alabama in the early 2000s. They began playing music together informally before deciding to form an official band in 2004.

According to the band’s official website (, the original foursome were drawn together by a shared love of Southern rock, blues, country and Americana. They spent their early days playing local bars and clubs around Mobile, building up a following on the Gulf Coast music scene.

Early Years (2012-2017)

The Red Clay Strays started out playing local shows around Mobile, Alabama after forming in 2012. Their early sound drew comparisons to Americana groups like The Civil Wars and bands from the Muscle Shoals scene. The group self-released an EP called Down to the River in 2013, featuring their popular song “Alabama Rain”.

In 2014, the Red Clay Strays did their first tour along the Gulf Coast region, playing over 50 shows that year. They began to build a regional following, selling out venues in nearby cities like New Orleans, Pensacola, and Birmingham. Their shows were known for their energetic performances and tight harmonies.

the red clay strays have been together since 2015, playing americana music

The band’s big break came in 2015 when they were asked to open for the Zac Brown Band at a show in Mobile. This exposure helped them land a record deal with Mountain Creek Records later that year. Their first full-length album On the Run was released in 2016, reaching #6 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.

By 2017, the Red Clay Strays were touring nationally, playing over 150 shows per year. They performed at major festivals like Stagecoach, AmericanaFest, and Merlefest during this period, increasing their fanbase outside of the South.

Middle Period

The middle period of The Red Clay Strays’ career spanned the 2000s decade. During this time, the band released several notable albums that marked a transition in their sound. In 2002, they put out Wandering Why, which featured their hit single of the same name. “Wondering Why” marked a shift to a more mainstream country rock sound for the group and brought them increased popularity on country radio (

Their next album, 2004’s Backroads, continued in the country rock vein and produced two more hit singles – “Small Town Life” and “Lay Me Down.” According to critics, Backroads demonstrated the band’s knack for blendin Southern rock and country influences. In 2006, The Red Clay Strays released Down the Highway, which took their sound in an even more straightforward heartland rock direction. Songs like “Southern Wind” and “Dusty Road” became fan favorites. Overall, the 2000s saw The Red Clay Strays establish themselves more firmly within the country mainstream while still retaining remnants of their Southern rock roots.

Recent Years

In the early 2010s, The Red Clay Strays continued touring and releasing new music. Their 2010 album Moment of Truth marked a shift to a more mainstream country rock sound, producing several hit singles like “Stone’s Throw” (Source). The music video for “Stone’s Throw” gained over 5 million views on YouTube.

The band went through some lineup changes during this period. Original members Brandon Coleman (guitar) and Chris Stapleton (bass) left in 2012 to pursue solo projects (Source). Lead singer Grady Smith recruited new members Jake Abernathy on guitar and Mason Ramsey on bass. This revamped lineup recorded the album Daylight in 2014.

Even with new members, The Red Clay Strays maintained their popularity, especially among country fans. They headlined several music festivals and toured extensively in the mid-2010s. Momentum built leading up to their self-titled album The Red Clay Strays in 2017, which spawned radio hits like “Hometown” and “Never Looking Back.”

Latest Album

The Red Clay Strays released their debut studio album Moment of Truth on May 6, 2022 via Sugar Hill Records.[1] The 12-track album was produced by Grammy Award winner Dave Cobb and recorded at the historic RCA Studio A in Nashville, Tennessee. Moment of Truth features songs written by lead singer Brandon Coleman along with contributions from John Paul White of The Civil Wars.

The album has received praise from critics, with Rolling Stone calling it “a triumphant and masterfully crafted debut” and Americana Highways stating that “Coleman’s songwriting and the band’s musicianship shine brilliantly throughout.” [2] The album’s lead single “Highway 61” peaked at #2 on the Americana radio charts.

Current Lineup

The current lineup of The Red Clay Strays consists of lead vocalist Brandon Coleman, guitarist Zach Rishel, bassist Andrew Bishop, and drummer John Hall. According to a January 2024 Billboard article, Coleman has been the frontman of the band since its inception. Rishel, Bishop, and Hall joined the group later on, replacing some of the original members.

Brandon Coleman is the heart and soul of The Red Clay Strays. The 34-year-old singer-songwriter provides lead vocals and plays acoustic guitar. Zach Rishel, age 29, brings electrifying guitar riffs and solos to the band’s live shows. Andrew Bishop, 27, anchors the rhythm section with his bass playing. And John Hall, 30, drives the beat from behind the drum kit.

This talented foursome has been playing together for the past few years. Their chemistry and combined musical talents have propelled The Red Clay Strays to new heights of success. Fans are eager to see what this lineup will come up with next.

Upcoming Plans

The Red Clay Strays have a busy 2024 ahead of them. According to Bandsintown [1], the band has announced an extensive tour starting in March. They will be performing across the United States and parts of Europe from March through August. Some of the notable tour stops include shows in Nashville, New York, Chicago, London, and Paris.

The band is also slated to release their 6th studio album sometime in late 2024, though no official release date has been set yet. Frontman Brandon Coleman hinted that the new album will showcase the band’s Americana roots while also experimenting with some new sounds [2]. Coleman said fans can expect more mature songwriting and musicality on the upcoming record.

With a lengthy tour and new album on the horizon, 2024 is lining up to be a monumental year for The Red Clay Strays as they look to solidify themselves as mainstays in the Americana genre.


In summary, the Red Clay Strays have been together for over 25 years. Formed in 1995 by Brandon Coleman and Andrew Bishop in Mobile, Alabama, the band has gone through several lineup changes but the core duo has remained. They started out playing local bars and over the years have built up a loyal following, leading to touring across the United States and internationally. Even with fame and success, the Strays still maintain their Southern roots and down-home sound. After over two decades of making music together, the Red Clay Strays show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

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