Arkansas-based Earl and Ernie Cate were prolific songwriters and singers who blended the blues with elements of rock & roll, country and rockabilly. Pianist/vocalist Ernie and guitarist/vocalist Earl signed to Asylum Records in 1975; their self-titled debut, issued shortly after, included appearances by Donald "Duck" Dunn, Steve Cropper, former Band drummer Levon Helm, and former Eagle and Poco member Timothy B. Schmidt. They followed up their debut in 1976 with In One Eye and Out the Other, trailed in 1977 by The Cate Brothers Band. Spurred by the success of the single "Union Man," 1979's Fire on the Tracks reached number 24 on the album rock charts in 1976.
Despite a dearth of recordings through the 1980s, the band remained a popular touring act in Tennessee, Arkansas and other strongholds of country rock and blues around the South. In the early '80s, Earl and Ernie joined Helm and others to form a reconstructed version of the Band, which by that point had lost guitarist Robbie Robertson; aside from touring with Helm, they also collaborated with blues singer Maria Muldaur. The Cate Brothers continued recording into the 1990s; in 1995, they issued Radioland, a unique hybrid of pop-oriented blues-rock, Stax-era soul-blues and country-rock on which they were joined by former John Mayall blues guitar phenom Coco Montoya. A new album, Play by the Rules, was released in 2004. ~ Richard Skelly, Rovi