Rubber Rodeo was a six-piece unit out of Rhode Island that fused New Wave drum machines and other electronic rhythms with a sincere country-western heart and a “yee-haw!” Indeed, a group that usually had audiences up and dancing in leather and studs had its first local hit with a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” The 1981 single featured Trish Milliken on lead vocals, and both she and husband/guitarist Bob Holmes set the course for a group that managed to find wide New England success for its hybrid Nashville sound. A local eponymous 6-song EP on Eat Records in 1982 brought the major record labels a-comin’ and soon Rodeo signed a deal with Mercury, putting out its Scenic Views album in 1984. Although Holmes went public about how difficult it was working with the production team and the label, the album still generated a national hit single in the song “Anywhere With You” (which reached #86 on the Billboard chart). A long-form video showing the band goofing around on the road, with memorable scenes from the dinosaur park also shown on their album cover, even earned a Grammy nomination. For a time it seemed like Rubber Rodeo had the musical keys to America’s future, but it was not to be. A second album on Mercury, Heartbreak Highway, sold disappointingly and by the late 80’s, the members had gone their separate ways.
(by Carter Alan)