Austin, TX, roots-music singer-songwriter Karen Poston released her debut album, Real Bad, in the summer of 2001. She had already achieved some measure of success when her song "Lydia," the tale of a widow who's lost two loved ones in a coal mine, ended up on Slaid Cleeves' much-lauded 2000 album, Broke Down.
Poston was born in Dayton, Ohio. Her family moved to Tipp City, which is between Dayton and Columbus, when she was 5 years old. She was raised on a farm, complete with horses and livestock, and first remembers singing publicly as a child, when her father plunked her on the hood of his car to offer renditions of some classic country tunes to the neighbors. Poston, who was tall and gangly in high school, didn't find her place in the crowd until college, when she first began writing songs. (She studied theater at Wright State in Ohio.) She first started performing in a folk duo and that collaboration led to the formation of Aunt Beanie's First Prize Beets. The group had some success in western Ohio with their country/bluegrass/jug-band blend and opened for such formidable visitors as Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Envisioning Austin, TX, as a mecca for their brand of music, the group relocated to that city in 1994 but broke up after a year of performing fairly steadily around town.
In the aftermath, Poston hooked up with Dale Watson and Charlie Robison, joining them occasionally at their gigs. Poston also appeared on Watson's 1996 Hightone release, Blessed or Damned. In addtion, she earned a role as a back-up and occasional lead singer for Ted Roddy's Tearjoint Troubadors. Looking to break out on her own, Poston formed her own band, the Crystal Pistols. She started by recruiting Dale Watson's drummer at the time, Terry Kirkendall and was introduced to steel guitar player Bobby Snell by western swing bandleader Cornell Hurd. Poston's debut, 2001's Real Bad, was produced by Jim Stringer and featured guest spots from such well-established Austin artists as Kelly Willis and Gurf Morlix.