Where they come from, the Toney Boys have a reputation for mischief.
“Growing up, we tended to get in trouble,” Glenn Toney said. “One time something happened on the street, I can’t recall what, and someone said to me ‘it must have been those Toney Boys.’ I guess she didn’t realize that I was one of those Toney boys.”
That memory stuck with him for a long time, and he and his brother, Chad, never stopped being known in Brentwood, Tennessee as those Toney Boys. Now 47 and 43, they don’t spend much time causing neighborhood-wide mayhem but, every now and then when the workweek ends and the kids have a babysitter, they pick up a guitar and a microphone and they get to be just those Toney Boys again.
“This is our alter ego,” Glenn Toney said. “Yeah, let’s call it that.”
The band, scheduled to join other local musicians at the Southern Rock and Roll Blues Show at Bama Theatre on June 28, specializes in a blend of southern rock and roll, funk and blues. At an age when many musicians have grown frustrated and leave the music industry, the Toney Boys are just now picking up where they left off more than twenty years ago.
Getting Started:
“Good choice,” came a voice in the Kroger’s line behind Glenn Toney after he’d ordered his pizza.
Glenn, then a senior in high school, turned curiously to see who was behind him. He had to peer down to meet the gaze of the short woman with the blonde wig, even though she was wearing high heels.
“Say, don’t I know you?” Dolly Parton asked him. “You play basketball, don’t you? You know, Parson Deen is my nephew and I watch all of his games on cable access. That’s where I’ve seen you.”
Growing up near Nashville, musical giants like Parton were hard to avoid. Ashley Judd had once asked him to the Sadie Hawkins dance when they were in middle school. Larry Gatlin lived just down the street. All in all, it seemed that Glenn had all the inspiration and resources he needed to become a musician, except that his father wouldn’t let him learn to play guitar.
“I grew up in… not a musical family,” Glenn said. “At least not as far as my mother and father are concerned. My father was more into me playing sports than he was into me playing an instrument, which, I can understand that.”
Outside of his immediate family, Glenn had four older cousins who were professional musicians and another relative who made her living as a singer and actress in New York City. Another relative, Jack Toney, had made a name for himself as a Christian artist. So maybe there was something in his genes, or maybe it was just the fact that he couldn’t walk down the street most days without seeing Madonna or some other popular singer jogging or driving by that encouraged his passion for music.
Every day he listened to KDF, then a local classic rock and roll radio station, and Rock 106, a station that played only the B-side of rock and roll records. In middle school, he began writing his own songs, but he still didn’t know how to play an instrument.
A few years later, Glenn was an undergraduate at the University of Alabama. By then, his parents had divorced and his father would soon move with Chad to Birmingham. Before the move to Alabama, Glenn tried in vain to keep a young, 28 year-old man from pursuing his newly single mother. When he left for college, Chad took on the responsibility of keeping him at bay, but the young man won him over easily by offering him one of his guitars.
After moving to Birmingham, Chad began to visit his brother often, usually bringing his new guitar along. Glenn had to admit that he was a little jealous that his little brother knew how to play the guitar and he didn’t- but only a little, really.
“[Chad] really had a good handle on the guitar so we started writing songs about 1988,” he said. “So we decided that we would form a band.”
After college, Glenn joined Toney in Birmingham. They brought along a childhood friend to play with them. He still didn’t know how to play the guitar, but he sang and wrote the band’s grungy, angst-filled lyrics. The band spent a year practicing at a local rehearsal studio and only played for small, select groups of people. Eventually, they decided to put together a big show in the hopes of being signed to a record label. Each of the members got to work calling recording managers and putting the word out about their show.
Just before the scheduled show, the rehearsal studio burned down, along with all of the band’s instruments and most of their recordings. The show wasn’t going to happen, and they weren’t going to be signed.
The Second Time Around:
“We’re getting the band back together,” Glenn’s friend and former band mate said matter-of-factly. Glenn was caught off guard.
“I don’t know,” he said. He thought about a commercial he’d seen once in which a group of middle aged men, dressed as sea gulls, loaded band instruments into a minivan. Glenn and his brother were both in their forties. They had families and real jobs. For years, they rarely broached the subject of their forgotten band.
“My brother and I, we talked frequently but not really about music,” Glenn said. “It was a sore, painful spot for both of us.”
Now, Glenn’s friend urged him to at least consider playing again and meeting other musicians. Eventually, he was able to convince him to send the only rehearsal tape that remained of The Toney Boy’s to a Nashville producer, Gary “Brotherman” Branchaud.
“I took it up there [to Nashville] and I played him a very crude tape of us performing,” Glenn said. “He listened to it and he said “Son that is classic rock and roll! Nobody plays classic rock and roll like that anymore!”
Branchaud agreed to enlist the band for a ten-song project that included collaborations with Nashville natives like Kenny Rodgers and Hank Williams, Jr. All of the songs were recorded live, all at once.
“There is an energy that’s captured when you do that,” Glenn said. “You can feel it.”
The next year, in 2013, the band returned to the studio, this time recording in the home of Nashville producer Scott Allen Smith. They decided to record two digital EPs, titled “Then,” a collection of six of the band’s older songs, and “Now,” a collection of five new songs.
“What I found is that albums really aren’t what drives the casual listener now,” Glenn said. “Now they’re about what’s new, what’s the latest thing.”
The biggest difference between the old songs and the new ones is the lyrics. The old songs, written at a time when grunge bands like Nirvana and Candlebox ruled the rock stations, reflect the darkness of the time period. With the band’s new songs, though, they send a more positive message.
Now that I’m older I don’t have all that angst and life is good,” Glenn said. “I think when you say things in music it has an effect and I would prefer everything we do as a band from here on out be positive.”
The Toney Boys will be appearing at the Southern Rock & Blues show at the Bama Theatre on June 28. Tickets are $20. VIP Sponsor Steamers on the Strip will be serving up some great low country boil while Druid City Brewing will have 4 taps flowing to help everyone get into the groove.

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