I grew up in a blue collar, working class family home in Kenova, West Virginia. My dad was born and raised among the clear creeks, the cool misty hollows, and some of the deepest coal mines in Logan, West Virginia--the same ones that swallowed so many of our kinfolk. He struck out from Logan when he was just a teenager and eventually landed his last job at a glass factory in Huntington, West Virginia, where he would be a welder and a journeyman for almost thirty years and along with mom, who is still a hard-working secretary at Ashland Oil in Ashland, KY. They taught me to work hard at whatever I do; thus is the reason I consider writing songs and performing blue collar jobs. I approach them with the same discipline, fervor and nitty-gritty attitude. The only difference between my job and most others' jobs is that I happen to love the work I do. Unfortunately, that doesn't make it any less difficult.
I attended undergraduate and graduate school at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia with a degree in Literature--a seemingly impractical curriculum for the "real world", but one that has prepared me for so many of life's challenges and that has supported me through the "lean" years.
As for my early youth, I spent it almost entirely in introspection. Most days I played alone, read, drew pictures, dreamed of other worlds and made up stories about them. My original aspiration was to write novels, poems, short stories or whatever other literary form the Muses would dictate. But I never dreamed of being a "songwriter", that was something I did almost subconsciously. It was a part of who I was. I never thought of writing songs as something someone "did", especially for a living.
As far back as I can remember, our family reunions have been, and still are, informal bluegrass/country concerts. Practically every one in my immediate and extended family plays an instrument, and so they strike up a band at every family reunion. No matter how much a pompous and fool-hearty youth tries to shake off his roots, he inevitably realizes they provide him with the sustenance he needs to grow and to thrive in the world. As it happened, I picked up a guitar when I was about twelve and began to put all my poems and stories to music.
What a strange bedfellow this vocation has become. Some of my friends say I retreat a bit too often into my little dark office to record and write. Some even believe I'm losing touch with reality (My wife says I could've landed a job at Disney Land). Indeed, music has become a dangerous and delicate balance that keeps me always on the brink of something--my wife says madness, I say happiness. She might be right, as she often is. At any rate, it is she who keeps me grounded while I continue to dream and play make believe with my two beautiful children, Savannah and Logan. And when I do come out to play, both of them love having a kid for a daddy (and Savannah's already writing her own songs at the proper age of five). Indeed, writing songs is one of those child-like things--one of those magnificently child-like things--that I'll never be able to put away, no matter how hard I might try, or how old I get.
Having said that, I consider myself extremely blessed beyond my early imagination to be still writing songs and performing them professionally. I've been with Muy Bueno Music (a George Strait and Erv Woolsey Company) in Nashville for the past seven years. I've had a bunch of cuts by various artists to get me by, and I hit the highway as often as I can for whomever will have me show up and sing.
So there it is. I tried not to wax philosophical in spite of myself. And if you regret reading it, perhaps you'll at least enjoy the music . .
Credits: Artists and Songs recorded
Mark Tribble (1991): "That Old Guitar"
John M. Montgomery (1998):
"I Don't Want This Song to End"***
Doug Stone (1999): "Make Up in Love"* **
Stevens Sisters (2000): "Lonesome Wind"
Craig Morgan (2001): "Something to Write Home About"*
Trisha Yearwood (2002): "Second Chance"***
Johnny Bush (2003) "Her Memory's Raisin' Hell"
Kevin Denny (2003) "That's How I was Raised"
Kelly Kenning (2004) "The Ride of My Life"
"Daylight Wasting Time"
"Weekend in Juarez"
Jimmy Fortune (2004)
Mark Elliott (2004)
Jake Matthews (2004)
"Kings for a Day"
Clay Walker (2005)
"Give It To Me Straight"
Trent Tomlinson (2006)
"Country is My Rock"
Cole Deggs (2006)
"Twelve Ounces Deep"
* Top forty hit
** BMI award-winning song in 2000
*** RIAA Certified Gold
Top 15 Texas Music Chart/Top 10 Texas Regional Chart
"Second Chance" - As the World Turns (2001)
Check out the artist's website:
1. The Side of Me You Need
2. I'll Call You
3. Give It To Me Straight
4. You Can Hear A Heart Break
5. Lie To Me
6. Heaven Cried
7. Daddy Had a Cane Pole
8. I Can't Turn It Off
9. Heaven Is Her
10. Heroes in the Field