Keeping The Wolves Away: The Death and Rebirth of Uncle Lucius
UPDATED: October 18, 2023
UPDATED: October 18, 2023

The Birth

Uncle Lucius, a band hailing from Austin, Texas, was founded in 2002 by Kevin Galloway and Hal Vorpahl. The group draws inspiration from a variety of genres, including country, blues, soul, and classic rock. Born out of open mics in the Austin nightlife scene, they quickly gained a dedicated following and regional success after releasing their 2006 debut album, Something They Ain’t, despite experiencing several member changes, the band maintained a consistent touring schedule and eventually signed with the Nashville-based record label eOne Music to record their third studio album, And You Are Me.

Following the release of And You Are Me, the band found themselves in disagreement with the record label, feeling it was an ill-suited partnership. Soon after, they toasted to the news that eOne Music was officially terminating their contract. In 2015, the band turned to their fans for support, successfully crowdfunding their last album, The Light, which was distributed via Thirty Tigers. Once the album was finished, Hal Vorpahl departed from the band, marking the end of an era.

The Death

 Well, we all know what happens next. Life on the road is a bitch. Night after night playing for tips, providing for families, and sometimes even tearing them apart. Although some prefer to go out guns blazing, there comes a time to hang up the old six-string. It’s a truly thankless job, most artists will never get the credit they deserve, but it’s the love of the game that keeps them going.

Kevin Galloway made it to 2017 before making the following remarks:

“12 years, five vans, 4 studio albums, countless miles, and friendships forged in fire, a lifetime of lessons and positive experiences.” “I’m forever grateful. I have no regrets. I’m moving on. To the fans … thank you for your belief and support. To the band … thank you for teaching me to be just one part of the whole.”

On Friday, March 23, 2018, Uncle Lucius played their final show at Gruene Hall in Texas.

Keep the Wolves Away

Keep the Wolves Away was released in 2012 on the album And You Are Me while under contract with eOne Music. Written by frontman Kevin Galloway, the song tells a tragic true story involving his father. It recounts his father being severely injured in a chemical spill on a tanker in Galveston Bay. Although his father survived, he received an inadequate settlement to help him and his family cope with his resulting injuries. For years, the family grappled with keeping the “wolves” away. The “wolves” symbolize bills, hunger, woes, and everyday misfortunes.

Though Keep the Wolves Away has been in jukebox rotations for over a decade.  It’s recently skyrocketed in popularity. I guarantee it’s partially because of the times we live in, another example being the overnight success of Virginia native Oliver Anthony Music. However, the song’s longevity can be attributed to the passionately written blue-collar subject matter, and perhaps, amplified by the influence of social media, Spotify, and streaming algorithms. Most notably, its appearance in the first season of the television phenomenon Yellowstone likely played a pivotal role in its sustained success. On January 21, 2021, three years after the band disbanded, and 11 years after the song was recorded, Keep the Wolves Away was certified Gold by RIAA (Recording Industry of America).

Keep the Wolves Away has entered the realm of folklore. The song boasts 129 million Spotify streams, but it’s the intuitively crafted short film meets music video, mirroring the song’s heart-wrenching narrative, that truly stands out. The viral video has garnered over 140 million views and evokes powerful emotions and personal stories among its viewers. The comments section is filled with tales of struggle, tragedy, empathy, and touching eulogies to late fathers. Undoubtedly, this song has morphed into a blue-collar anthem, uniting a community of kindred spirits in search of solace.

The Rebirth

Uncle Lucius recently released a two-part documentary titled The True Story Behind ‘Keep the Wolves Away’. In this documentary, Kevin Galloway sheds light on the song’s journey to success, revealing that it was recorded under an eOne Music contract, which has limited Uncle Lucius’ publishing rights. It’s unclear how much revenue, if any, the song has earned as the details regarding sales and streaming platforms remain undisclosed. Galloway might not get the payout he so readily deserves, but he expresses pride in the song’s message and its positive impact on those seeking healing, considering it rewarding enough.

Following the success of Keep the Wolves Away, Uncle Lucius has witnessed a resurgence in the popularity of their entire discography, with streams and views continuously pouring in. This unexpected revival has rekindled a passion that had previously seemed extinguished.

Recognizing the opportunity, Galloway remarked on December 5, 2022:

“The tides have shifted, and the stars have aligned once more. After a five-year hiatus, Uncle Lucius is returning to the music scene, bringing their signature blend of soul, joy, and power to select stages across the country. All we’ve got is now.”

On March 23, 2023, Uncle Lucius reunited on the legendary Gruene Hall stage. The very stage they played their “final” show 5 years prior.

Uncle Lucius has returned with a vengeance, showcasing that sometimes, slow and steady truly wins the race. They recently released the new single Keep Singing Along on September 13, 2023 in preparations for the new album Like it’s the Last One Left set to drop on December 8, 2023.

Follow Uncle Lucius

You may also be interested in Kevin Galloway’s Like Before

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