Where do I begin,
Life in Central and Northwest Arkansas was incredibly unique in the mid-2000's. I was a Bible Belt church kid who, fortunately, had a big brother who discovered a punk rock scene in our neck of the woods. Neither of us knew a thing about rock and roll beyond maybe Incubus and the Dave Mathews Band, but I just followed his lead when he started coming home with MXPX and Taking Back Sunday cd's. I thought those bands were awesome, mostly because he did first, but they were like a gateway drug to the great beyond.
Fast forward a few years later and I'm sitting there as the lead-vocalist of one of the bigger bands in the tri-state region. It was exhilarating, and I had no clue what I was doing. We had taken our hardcore and punk rock influences and intertwined them with boogie-woogie southern riffs. We thought we were doing something unique, until we discovered bands like Pantera and Black Sabbath and realized we had been living under a rock all our lives. It helped that a few other prominent bands in our scene had the same idea that we did, or maybe we had the same idea as they did, and it became a whole new sub-genre of music within our bubble. It was perfect timing.
Now the way I worded the paragraph above might make my old band seem bigger than we were. When I say "tri-state region" I'm referring to Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Fly over states. We weren't near as big as we thought we were in retrospect, but I probably carried myself like we were. I blame that on adolescent ignorance. But nonetheless, those wild days taught me more than most other things in my life. It gave me the courage to write my own songs and sing them for strangers and, more importantly, for folks who knew me, which can be absolutely terrifying.
Country music was always a part of my life, so there's no need to dive into that right now. It was just always there and I always loved it, it just wasn't something I was pursuing at the time. All I really wanted to do was spin my hair in circles and yell at people from behind a microphone, while also talking about Jesus from time to time. You see, the Bible Belt is, and was, a really bizarre place. Growing up in the church made us feel this underlying obligation to intertwine christianity into our music. Everybody did it, and it was widely accepted, and often times even expected.
I always felt like an outcast for one reason or another, and our music scene made me feel accepted from the moment I first started hanging around. It was just a bunch of people who felt and looked like me. Maybe we were too small to play sports, or too big to get girls, or couldn't afford the latest pair of Iversons, or maybe our parents had money and we got picked on at school for it. Whatever the reason, all roads led us to those dingy hole-in-the-wall clubs who halted their alcohol sales for the night so us kids could pay a $5 cover and hang out for a while. Our music scene is where I met my wife, honed my craft, and made some of my best friends to this day. If you were a part of that time in my life and you're reading this, thank you. I'm better man for knowing you.