June 20th, 2014
I was born in the deep dark hills of Eastern Kentucky in a town called Paintsville. You’ve heard Loretta Lynn sing about that cabin on the Hill in Butcher Holler? Well, I can give you directions… it’s not far from where I grew up.
Anyway, I grew up in in the 80′s, and cut my musical teeth on artists such as Wham, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, and Men at Work. I’m not proud of it, but that’s the way it goes. Somewhere along the way, my mother instilled in me a love for songwriters such as Paul Simon and Jim Croce, while my dad exposed me to rockabilly rebels such as Jerry Lee Lewis and the pioneers of rock and roll. I was introduced to the band R.E.M., and their blend of southern folk/rock in high school. In college, it was the Dave Matthews Band’s brand of roots-based jams that provoked me to drive for hours on end just to get to the next show.
Somehow, all of that brought me here. Simon and Croce taught me to value a well written song… one of the main tenants of Americana radio. “The Killer” and his breed taught me that a well-crafted ballad is fun, but sometimes we are meant to crank up the speakers and “Shake, Rattle, & Roll.” R.E.M. was my biggest influence, teaching me a love for a good harmony. Michael Stipe and Mike Mills from R.E.M. readied me for Gary Louris and Mark Olsen of the Jayhawks and many others. The DMB introduced me to Bela Fleck, Sam Bush and those who rely on pure musical skill to dazzle the ear. To me, that’s Americana. It borrows from many styles and belongs to none… mixing songcraft with musical virtuosity, and often melding a delicate vocal melody with a blast of unbridled energy and emotion.
In 2001 I started hosting a show called “Americana Crossroads” on Morehead State Public Radio. I started hosting one night a week. That eventually became a full time gig as I moved up to hosting four nights a week. In 2004, this Kentucky boy met a Knoxville girl and started spending a lot of time in the hills of East Tennessee. I started listening to WDVX, enjoyed the music, and thought, “Gee, I’d like to work there someday.” Now, I’m married to that Knoxville girl and hosting Wednesday and Friday nights and serving as Music Director here at East Tennessee’s own.