It’s a cloudy, dreary December day outside, but the laughter between the three musicians I’m sitting with is making things seem brighter. It’s their first time at theCO, and I had them crash on the couches to create a comfy environment for our interview. Ben Gilbreath, Nathan Megelsh, and Tyler Marberry are meeting with me today to talk about their band, Forked Deer Homeschool Parade. If you’re from around the more southern West Tennessee area, you probably know that it’s pronounced “Fork-ed Deer.”
Jackson’s musical dichotomy has had a strange, often polarizing environment for musicians to grow in over the last decade. Often touted as the bathroom break between Memphis and Nashville, Jackson—with the exception of Carl Perkins’ aeonian influence on rockabilly—is not critically recognized as a musically significant city. To say that Jackson is part of a bigger delta blues triangle would be more plausible. Music scenes are often planted in Jackson but never seem to flourish.
Small Town Big Sound started off with a dream: Keegan Paluso’s desire to use his musical background to help others in West Tennessee realize their potential. What began as this idea soon formed into a community of local artists, each with different and diverse experiences, working together to create original music. Keegan shared with me about how Small Town Big Sound writes, records, and produces the music of our area.
Being young with creative aspirations takes hard work and initiative, sometimes particularly so in smaller towns. Yet Jackson is the lucky home to a plethora of up-and-coming talent with big plans for the future. Having lived and worked here for several years now, the members of Coopertheband are no strangers to the trials and rewards of the independent music world. They have recently played several shows back-to-back in the community, extending their central messages of hope and joy through their lyrics.
For years I’ve been hearing the name James Cherry. I first heard of him when I was a student at Union University (also his alma mater) and then continued to hear about this guy as a Jacksonian interested in writing. It’s clear that locals are proud to have this Jackson native around. He’s the president of the Griot Collective of West Tennessee, a monthly poetry workshop, and is, upon meeting him, very obviously cool. He has an easy going temperament and a steady, unquestionable passion for the written word.
Rain falls steadily against the sidewalk, bouncing back up almost as soon as it brushes the ground, and all I have for a shield is my military-green rain jacket as I hurry into Alba. Throwing off my hood, I spota guy in a sharp polka-dotted button-up and a girl with cool eyeliner sitting in the corner of the coffee shop. Together, local artists Hunter Cross and Cameron Briley combine their talents as The Skeleton Krew, an original band with a 60s-inspired, blues-rock vibe.
I have an affinity for hardworking people. That's why I like guys like Brandon Barnett. Brandon is one of Jackson's more interesting songwriters, and he also has a knack for churning out thoughtprovoking podcasts about the struggles of being a musician via "Left of Nashville." I sat down with Brandon last month to talk about things we liked and his music/podcast endeavors.
In eager anticipation of their upcoming concert this weekend, I jumped at the chance to speak with singer-songwriter couple Cody and Melody Curtis as well as vocalist/musician/visual artist Thomas Griffith about PSALLOS. PSALLOS is a musical group made up of fourteen individuals currently supporting their ambitious ROMANS project, a concept album that details the book of Romans in the Bible.
A husband of twenty-one years and the father of three teens, Andrew Peterson is a Christian singer-songwriter and author based out of Nashville, Tennessee. Since moving there from the homeland he lovingly calls "redneck Florida," Andrew has produced seventeen albums and written a four-part book series, The Wingfeather Saga. The Star Center has the joy of welcoming Andrew to Jackson this Saturday, February 20, for a concert at Fellowship Bible Church benefiting their Literacy Lab scholarships.
In between casually referencing James Blunt, discussing My Chemical Romance’s best records, and pouring over photos of the various orcs from The Lord of The Rings, Rob and Thomas Griffith of Flying Colours spoke with me this week about the band’s upcoming show in Jackson. The Flying Colours have been featured before in Our Jackson Home; for this interview, Rob and Thomas opened up about the latest news for the band and their gratitude for the support that Jackson has shown for them throughout the years.
Garrett Hinson of Trenton, Tennessee, is no stranger to the artistic struggle, but what makes his struggle so interesting is how he has grown into his own brand of aural singularity. Folk and rock music are incredibly different than their traditional interpretations, and that’s part of what makes Garrett’s sound so enjoyable. Garrett applies the traditional and contemporary styles of folk and rock for a sound that doesn’t cross barriers but fuses them instead.
Nashville is an interesting place for a plethora of reasons, but one of the most interesting things about the city is what it does to musicians. The best of the best from all over the world flock to the city in hopes of fulfilling some guilded dream of becoming some sort of star, but in actuality they are sharpening the fangs of the cities growing problem with musical egocentrism. Why am I saying all of this? Because Erin Rae is part of the solution to the very problem I just described to you.
Instead of exploring the seemingly rich platitudes that most mediocre artists tend to in their formative years, West Tennessee’s Lauren Pritchard has taken another route. Pritchard, who now goes by her stage name LOLO, is a performing veteran with an impressive credits list ranging from Broadway to Jay Leno. LOLO is now signed to DCD2, a label started by Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz.
Logan Wall is a twenty-two-year-old Jackson native with an impeccable ear for melody. Not only can he write music well, but he is also a very talented singer-songwriter. Logan is currently studying audio engineering at MTSU, but he already has an enviable amount of studio experience as a player, engineer, and producer under his belt. One could say Logan is a Jack-of-all-trades when it comes to music, but you’d never know due to his humble nature.