The story behind the debut album

There’s not a whole lot I can say, seeing that I’ve only been on this earth nineteen years. I guess I could tell you about when I got my first guitar, or when I joined my first band, or who my biggest musical influences are, but I think I need to start with my childhood. I was home-schooled as a kid (I know you’re not surprised…). My cousin Kristi, who was also home-schooled, lived next door to me. Everyday around lunch time we would walk through the field, down what we called the buttermilk trail, to my grandmother’s house.

My grandmother, Mrs. Charlotte Crump, was a retired cook. Born into the Great Depression, she spent much of her childhood with a cotton sack slung around her shoulder. She grew up to marry my grandfather, Bennie Crump, and together they started the S&W Diner. By the time I came along she had already retired and sold the diner to her sister Sandra. Oh, I failed to mention that we never called her “Grandma” or “Grannie”. To us, this old lady, strong as a pine knot and tough as Georgia clay, was simply known as “Nannie”.

When we would arrive at Nannie’s house she would have a whole Thanksgiving cooked for us daily. Fried chicken, fried okra, mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread, salmon patties, and sweet potatoes just to list a few. It was far more than anyone could eat. So needless to say, we had really happy dogs.

About two or three times a week, a few of her siblings would stop by and join us for lunch. Like her, they had grown up in hard conditions. Many days they spent with their backs hunched over, toiling away under the heavy heat of the sun. This wasn’t some kind of part time job to go on their resume, it was just life.

I would sit there and listen to them talk and laugh and cuss. The way they made words. The way they told stories. I like to think it’s a part of me. Maybe it’s the reason I take words and stories so seriously. Either way, it’s the most important part of who I am. More so than any guitar or John Prine album. So if you like my songs, know that I didn’t just pull them out of thin air. I spent years watching, listening, and learning.