"Country music is earnest. It's all about the songs."

We're sitting with Beau Patrick Bedford, bandleader and producer for the Texas Gentlemen, somewhere in East Nashville, enjoying a cup of coffee. He and his fellow Gents are celebrating the release of their debut record — and first effort with New West Records — TX Jelly, which debuted in September.

"When I made this record, I was really planning on releasing it myself. We wanted to control our own destiny. We had a lot of great things in place," Bedford recalls, "but then our manager was walking down the street during SXSW and ran into New West's president, Jason Allen, and he just raved about us. We started a dialog, and it became this perfect marriage for us. They relieved us of the responsibilities of other things so we could focus on just being in a band. It allowed me to have my own life ... a little bit at least. They provided opportunities that we weren't going to have on our own. All of a sudden, we had a full label team behind us!"

Bedford is no stranger to making and releasing records himself. More than being a bandleader for the Gents, he's been a producer in the studio for countless artists.

"The first records I produced were for Kirby Brown and Dovetail, and both of those records featured almost everybody who is in the Texas Gentlemen now," Bedford tells us. "As a producer, I feel so lucky that we all met at such a young age. We started making so many records together. Any solo artists I'd meet, I'd bring in these guys to play with them ... I thought they were amazing."

Over time, Bedford and company figured out that they fit together pretty well, and they decided to take their relationship beyond that of a producer and backing band, and went all in with the Texas Gentlemen.

"I didn't even really notice any other musicians, so I didn't understand how good it was," Bedford says of working with his bandmates in the studio. "We just figured it out that we were really gifted, but more than that, we really enjoyed making music together."

I just love connecting with people who are connected to the earth, who are gifted in their craft, and who earnestly pursue both their craft and tapping into the world that's around them.

Making music together, for Bedford, is much more than writing songs and jamming: "I can't speak for the whole band, but for me, I just love connecting with people who are connected to the earth, who are gifted in their craft, and who earnestly pursue both their craft and tapping into the world that's around them," he says.

"That's what makes great artists. That's where the Kris Kristoffersons come from; that's where the Willie Nelsons come from," Bedford adds. "For our band, that paves the way first. I believe as a band, we're called to be in the middle of producing and creating modern, timeless American music. We want to be part of that lineage."

That timeless American music is something Bedford has dedicated his life to, and something he finds immense inspiration in.

"It joins the common man together," Bedford pontificates. "There's something inherent in the American ideal of independence and democracy for mankind. There's something unique about serving man, and something artists can tap into, you know? We can fight against our own system. We're not supposed to keep people out of this country. We're humans. We're independent as the common man, not as the mighty nation. The more artists that embrace this, regardless of genre ... it's time that we start going to battle and celebrating this."

Listening to Bedford expand on this idea, there doesn't seem to be a line between the art that he creates and the beliefs he holds close to his heart. For too long, when this line was blurred, critics were quick to attack artists, and it's hard for country music fans — and for Bedford — to not immediately think of the Dixie Chicks and how they were treated back in 2003 when they spoke out against George W. Bush and and the invasion of Iraq.

"I think if the Dixie Chicks did what they did then, now, they'd be celebrated," he tells us. "Back then, the public wasn't ready to hear the system challenged like that. It was still too gray, what really was happening. Now it's so blatant. People don't care, people aren't trying to speak for everybody. People say whatever they want, and so there's no gray area anymore."

He goes so far as to argue that history will eventually show the Dixie Chicks were right, and because of that, artists like him can speak out without worrying about being chastised.

Let's talk. Let's engage. Let's use our music to make change, and to unite us. We can do that every single day.

"It's time to pick a side," Bedford confesses. "I'm not saying we need to fight our fellow man, but let's talk. Let's engage. Let's use our music to make change, and to unite us. We can do that every single day."

In other words, Bedford's convictions for his music and his values go back to the foundation of his love for his genre: "Country music is earnest. It's all about the songs."