THE QUEST FOR REAL COUNTRY MUSIC

Inspired by the writings and the road trips of Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, and Jack Kerouac, Blake journeys to the birthplace of American Country Music in the heart of Appalachia. Traveling on to Nashville and back home, he chronicles Country Music’s tide-turning revolution and meets the folks who honour the genre’s traditions and quality. A trilogy with a blog-based narrative, Blake’s quest comes complete with live music reviews, travel anecdotes, personal struggles and interviews with a multitude of characters all sharing their stories.

 

43. Tyler Childers and The Food Stamps

"You lucky son of a bitch, I'd kill to see Tyler Childers again for the first time." I move back to my previous position between Thomas and Stanley. It's been occupied by a man, dark-skinned and twice my size, handler of yet another flavour of the ever-flowing local...

42. Wook Out America

Where the barks and bellows for Angela Perley and The Howlin' Moons end in round vowels, The Wooks have the crowd stretching hard 'Es' through yips and yaps. What seems a much more regional tone to appreciation. If there's been a doubling of filled mason jars, there's...

41. Angela Perley & the Howlin’ Moons

Where dusk would be an hour away outside the holler, the sun drops for a shadow cast. It's remnants falling behind the mountain top give the festival vibe no transitional period. Where Angela Perley and The Howlin' Moons would be a band at dusk in any other geography,...

40. The Equestrian Ouroboros

The Jenkins Twins summon a roar from the crowd with a lyric; "Nashville...I can't trust a word you say." The epicentre of aspiration fraud lies 245 miles due southwest, close enough for a quick-fix yet easier avoided. However, there's no denying the symbiotic...

39. The Hospitality of Byron Roberts

Tents line the holler. Artisans hawking goods. A stereotype that one would expect in the Kentucky hills is overshadowed by tone of the metaphysical. Crystals, smudges, pendulums, and skulls are prevalent on multiple displays. Quartz, found in The Columbia Mine in...

38. The Horse Traders

It's Kentucky fashion to complete a hello with a 'y'all' and as my East Nashvillian roommates have been making sincere efforts to incorporate 'eh'  into their dialect, I've been reciprocating by honouring local slang as well. It's a thin line between acceptance and...

37. Through the Hills to Kickin’ It On The Creek

I jotted quick directions down as Kelli gave them but succumbed to her information of the green dots. A homemade brown plywood guitar scribed "Kickin It On The Creek" sits on highway 89 headed south into the hills. My first landmark. The drive is pretty, it goes from...

36. Wandering into the Unknown

Obama loves bees. In June of 2014, the United States government established a Pollinator Health Task Force as a response to the rapidly declining numbers in honey bees and other pollinators. As an immediate threat to the agricultural economy, sustainability of food...

35. An Elderly Man and a Tree Fort

We grew up on the backs of horses and in the branches of trees. Left over building material from barns, tractor and hay sheds was kept in "the wood pile", a neverending supply of plywood, two by fours, two by sixes, and scraps. Jarid, Jody, and I would root around to...

34. Father David Banga, A Single Drop Of Rain

The small town church is the fabric to a strong community. If allowed to be. If its leader recognizes the truths beyond the institute and grows the fellowship in harmony with his continued study. If he leads through selflessness and inclusion. If his followers...

Removing the Veil; Insecurities, Vulnerabilities and Creativity

Real-time. Allow me to bring down the fourth wall. I left home on September 7 with a simple goal in mind. Go with the flow. I have a brand new album in my back pocket that I spent months working on. A challenge in its own rite - a ton of material scrapped weeks before...

33. Six Songs & a Yellow Mustang

"...TILL THE NIGHT CLOSES IN...DUH DUH DUH DUH...TILL THE NIGHT CLOSES IN..." I have a tummy full of Timmys and I'm belting out my guilty pleasure song at the top of my lungs along to the radio. It's a moment of rejuvenation. This morning's shower returned me to my...

32. A Gift From The Gods of Canadian Iconicism

An elderly couple sits to my right. He's mumbling over a crossword and she's reading the Daily Independent. She's excited for tonight's show at Poage Landing Days. "Travis Twitty plays tonight, he's one of those overnight sensations." I can't help but eavesdrop after...

31. Harvest Moon & Kentucky Rain

The late afternoon heat makes breathing difficult. The air has a water quality to it and condenses in my lungs. By this point in the day it's too late to leave for Irvine, I more-less expected it to slip away on me. I make a lap through the carnival section of the...

29. Selling Albums Door-to-Door

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, nothing ain't worth nothing but it's free..." I was homeless for the better part of the year. This was another advantage. I'd bounce from relative's basements to buddy's couches. Pit stops at the family farm and...

28. Knock, Knock.

I lived on the corner of 3rd St NW and 5th Ave NW in Medicine Hat, Alberta with two sisters from Coronach, Saskatchewan. Courtney and Pisser. Pisser wasn't her real name. Courtney was. I was fortunate around all the difficulty to have a nice roof over my head....

27. The New Weapon

I was just coming into my own as a guitarist. Still with a main focus on writing I did what I could to incorporate an Angus Young lick in here and there but we were playing balls out rock and roll and the sound required more than my mediocre pentatonic runs. I was...

26. Me & Trav

The Bacherts, Mitch and Myself performed under the name Spent. It came from an anticlimactic moment at a Boston Pizza expressing how we were feeling post performance. I had a handful of songs written withs sexual overtones - it was the AC/DC and Sum 41 influence. I...

25. Tyson and Derek Bachert, Mitch Hassler, and Travis Rennebohm

My brother was my first bassist, kind of. I taught him single grooves along to "Closing Time" by Semisonic and we met with The Bacherts for the first time in their parents basement. It wasn't Jarid's thing, he lasted one rehearsal. I still fantasize about having him...

24. A German Exchange Student and a Tireman’s Daughter

For the most part, minor hockey meant partying. A Friday night home game was followed by a players parents house commandeered by a load of on'ry teens. With any luck, master bedrooms were vacant of the house's owners and debauchery could ensue. We'd fill ovens with...

23. Losing my Cool on Corporate America

I'm back to my Starbucks to meet the morning staff. A complete turnover includes a couple handsome twenty year olds, one singing his orders and the other telling him to stop. A curly haired red head mops the floor by the washrooms...sorry, restrooms (that's been...

22. Sturgill Simpson @ Paramount Theatre, Ashland, KY 09.15.16

I'm six feet from the stage left front of house speakers but the sound is a pleasant volume and crystal clear. The generosity of the gentleman to my right has me transplanted from the back balcony to third row floor. His name is Judd and his wife was unable to attend....

21. W.B. Walker To The Rescue

I like Sturgill's new record. I put myself in his creative shoes before listening to it. How would I follow up Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. The only option is to make something totally different. There are a few tracks that harken to past releases but for the...

20. Starbucks with Sturgill Simpson

I make little efforts of consistency. So far, restless sleeping has been the only entry on that list. I'd harass Melanie and her bassist, Beth, when on the road, as they brought their own coffee making supplies into someone else's home. I saw it as almost a rude...

19. Kentucky; Unbridled Spirit

In a La Quinta parking lot in Loudon, TN, I had the best half-assed sleep yet. I could feel a change in the weather as a thick morning dew gives me a little extra privacy on the windows. It's my quickest transition from sleeping quarters to driver's seat, as well....

18. New Year’s Eve 1979; I Am My Father’s Son

My father doesn't fly. Obviously he has. Once sitting next to me as a chaperone on a grade twelve grad trip to Edmonton. The slightest turbulence caused groans of possible death. I fly, but if time allows would much rather drive. As a family, Dad and Mom loaded us up...

17. Hayes Carll @ The Revelry Room, Chattanooga, TN 09.14.16

The Revelry doesn't work against the acts they bring in. They understand how to set the tone of a performance and play music between acts that compliment the styles of the evening. When a venue panders to the few in a room and plays today's pop country hits in between...

16. The Day Stompin’ Tom Connors Died

Canadian Legend, Stompin' Tom Connors, passed away on March 6, 2013. That morning had a similar tone to the previous five. Petty arguing, frustrations and jealousy. In a long distance relationship, as the majority of them seemed to be in my life, I was the one that...

15. BJ Barham @ The Revelry Room, Chattanooga, TN 09.14.16 – Part II

With Kelly's advice to pay attention to the lyrics, I wait for Barham to walk onstage. He does so modestly. Scattered tattoos on his strumming arm and what seems a more organized collection on his fretting side. His Gibson J-45 is sharp. A 1968 reissue with a cherry...

14. BJ Barham @ Revelry Room – Chattanooga, TN 09.14.16 – Part I

A year old, The Revelry Room is Chattanooga's newest five-hundred capacity venue. The south Station Street entrance advertises fellow venue, Track 29's, upcoming performances. Both venues a part of the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo, an epic brick structure...

13. Conspiracies & Kombucha

Marina Street has character. The characters have character. I've been in town hours and already helped the neighbour load furniture into the back of his pick-up out the front steps of an old brick house. Plywood where there should be a window. A seven foot plank fence...

12. Three Paths & Proverbs; The Road to East Nashville

I wake to a phone call from my sister, letting me know that Jessica Moskaluke was awarded the top consolation at The Canadian Country Music Awards for the third consecutive year. Deservedly so. In the winter of 2011, fellow road-dog, Chris Henderson and I agreed to...

10. Devil in a Woodpile & Lawrence Peters @ The Hideout 09.10.16

The Hideout is its own unique brand of honky tonk. A house upon entrance. Walking up on its porch you pass under a lit-up Heileman Old Style Pilsner Sign. Every honky tonk has one in Chicago. If it isn't hung outside advertising Chicago's Beer, it sits as a backdrop...

9. The Hideout 20th Anniversary Party – Chicago 09.10.16

Balloon-framed, The Hideout has the history you'd expect of a hundred year old Chicago hangout. Built and run by the undocumented. Carpenters that didn't exist and bootleggers that only few knew, did. The devil is in the details and The Hideout kept theirs in a...

8. Slipping into Bizzaro World

In a mighty slow return, I beat Ethan to the morning and having slept with my feet towards the east window, awake to the brightness of the room before opening my eyes. As a traveller its regular to expect one setting and shake morning disorientation to find another...

7. Ethan Kinsella @ The Friendly Tap 09.09.16 – Part II

Ethan is appreciative. We finally get to have a good chat in following his second set. He introduces me to his boys. Connor Ostrow is a sixteen year old prodigy, with a first love of bluegrass he's recently immersed himself in Honky Tonk to understand the styles of...

6. Ethan Kinsella @ The Friendly Tap 09.09.16 – Part I

I don't make it two turns without needing to revert to google maps. After years of my complacent 'I'm bad with directions' I now make effort to be good with directions. Lock the shape of the route in mind and make up a nursery rhyme that includes the streets. In...

5. The Hoyle Brothers @ The Empty Bottle 09.09.16

"Hey man, you playin' tonight?" I give a scrawny pencil mustached smoker a once over. He's going for a Freddie Mercury look or something so I thought it was a shoe-in. He answers only with a gesture, shaking is head from side to side. The door is scrawled with chalk...

4. West Side Chicago, Summer of ’96

From the corner of Hiltz Dr and the 48 Highway just north of Kennedy, Saskatchewan, Pythagoras' Theorem puts Langbank 4.67 km away as the crow flies. Subtle differences between the towns - Langbank has a Co-op, Kennedy does not. Kennedy had a shoe shop, Langbank did...

3. Lucky Tubb and The Modern Day Troubadours – 09.08.16

Lee's Liquor Lounge sits as an outcast of downtown Minneapolis. Small but confident, it knows exactly what it is. The Last Honky Tonk of the North. Ten years on the road builds a grit that helps with saying hello to the Forsaken leaning against the brick exterior. Two...

2. On the Ground and Walkin’ the Floor

Packing is survival. One duffle bag including six snap-shirts, two t-shirts, three pairs of jeans, ten pairs of socks with an equivalent amount of undergarments (boxer-briefs with an emergency pair of tighty whities). I wear a brown leather belt, however, included my...

1. Nowhere to be; a quest for real country music

I hit my breaking point. I've independently made a decent living in the Canadian music scene for the better part of the last ten years. Out of high school, I began writing music with the intent to sell. I read every publication I could get my hands on and found that...

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