This husband and wife duo rose to the forefront of the UK’s new country scene in the late 90s, tapping into the growing popularity in England of a wave of Americana performers from over the Atlantic. Singer-songwriter ‘Big’ Steve Pulford (b. London, England) made his musical debut at the start of the 90s with A-La-Tex, a popular hard rocking country outfit that recorded a solitary album (1994’s Rough ’N’ Tumble) before disbanding. Pulford continued to perform as a solo act on the London roots scene, which is where he first met his future wife Stephanie Arlene. She grew up in Los Angeles and made her break into music in the mid-80s as a backing vocalist with punk band the Flesheaters. By the end of the decade, Stephanie had relocated to England and temporarily gave up music to work in a gentleman’s outfitters. She was lured back into singing after meeting Steve, and not before too long the pair had forged a musical and romantic alliance. They married in 1998 and released their debut mini-album the following year. The Arlenes featured a reworked version of an earlier single ‘Springboard’, a catchy country rock number with witty lyrics that earned the duo some ecstatic praise from the UK media. They contributed songs for the BBC’s Border Cafe television drama, and built up a formidable live reputation with the aid of lead guitarist Al Christie and bass player Pat McGarvey.
In 2002, the Arlenes’ Stuck On Love, was widely hailed as the finest country album to emerge from the UK for many a year. One of the finest tracks, ‘Lonely Won’t Leave Me Alone’, was co-written by Mike Daly (ex-Whiskeytown) and featured Stephanie’s sole lead vocal on the album. The couple moved to California in 2003, later relocating to Sacramento. Steve was employed as a doorman at the Old Ironsides club and before too long had recruited a number of local musicians to join him and Stephanie in the Arlenes. The band’s new album, Going To California, was recorded in Austin, Texas, but was initially only released in the UK.