The Kentucky Girl

Hit play on this song. Turn it up. All the way.

I have said that my first living experience in Brooklyn was a lonely little room on the east side of Bushwick among the prostitutes and the drug dealers. It was just me making a solitary go at existing in NYC. When I left my home in Georgia, I was broken, emptied, and too numb to be desperate. That girl that I loved best had recently died. That’s how I came to Brooklyn.

Alex6The hard, early times were, indeed, hard. But the numbness helped to mediate how shitty being a newcomer to NY can be. It’s like trying to bully a kid who already couldn’t give a fuck. People here resent the grind. Yet, it was the grind that got me through those early years. The grind is a river. You have to not fight it. You have let go of the bank, get in the flow. I lost a lot of weight in those days. It’s a lot of exercise to be in this city with no car, daily hustling to find work, to keep work. There were times when I couldn’t afford to put any money on my MTA card. I had to eat less. I had to choose wisely what I did eat. Trying not to subsist on just Ramen noodles, I went through a lot of beans and rice.

B&B Pre 1When I finally found a decent job at a fancy-ish patisserie in Cobble Hill, where I first met Amanda Neill, I didn’t feel fit, or “in shape.” I felt wind sheared. I’m not a particularly prideful person, but I know I earned my place in NYC. With the comfort of the new decent job, and the constant worry about money, rent, and food abating, the loneliness set in. Not that I didn’t have friends. It was that I didn’t have her, I didn’t have that. I finally began to grieve. Depression set in. I felt that I had drifted too far out from people. I felt like I was perceiving every friendly soul as though there was a partition of glass between us. I didn’t know how to connect anymore.

Mary Elaine Jenkins

This is the talented Mary Elaine Jenkins. NOT the Kentucky girl.

Enter the Kentucky girl for her part in the story. A tall, young girl who came to work at the patisserie with me and Amanda. She was nice, smart, with an appropriate amount of weirdness, but naïve. I happened to overhear her giving life advice to another young employee. I listened in to be amused by some homespun platitudes and/or Facebook inspirational quotes. The girl from Kentucky told her friend matter-of-factly, “Get out, and go do.” She said just leave the apartment, and pick a direction. The Kentucky girl said, “this is New York City.”

You're My FriendA couple years from then, the comfort and ease of the solitary life had outlasted its usefulness. I had heard Amanda sing, and had been following that voice, and encouraging others to join me. Intrepid photog Andreea was one. She heard what I heard in Amanda’s voice, and in time she and I heard the songs of other voices singing from their southern souls. With the words of the Kentucky girl ringing in my head, and knowing of no way to be a part of this Brooklyn Country community, I started The Road Southern as my way back to the world. That first post was one year ago today.

The Road Southern's Intrepid Photo

The Road Southern’s Intrepid Photo

It has awarded me the friendship of Andreea whose encouragement and contributions to the blog are immeasurable, and I am indebted to her. Through the blog and Amanda, I have made many new friends, I have eaten insanely good food, and heard music the likes of which brings me back to when I was a teenager; ecstatic, giddy, and touched to the core by the newness and the wonder.

This happened because I went out and I did. I left my apartment and picked a heading. And a year later, I am happy. I’m not just surviving or getting by. I’m living in this city. I walk out of my apartment now, and I have many places to go. I owe Andreea. I owe Amanda. I owe every brilliant, talented artist in these pages. That debt is what keeps me on that road, and smiling.

We even shot a music video for some folks!

We even shot a music video for some folks! Click to watch AND listen!

There’s even a girl now. She’s from Memphis. I met her on that first night I heard Amanda sing. Amanda and the Memphis girl were sitting on a stoop after the very first Barefoot & Bankside show. Amanda said to me, “Jody, you have to meet the most wonderful and amazing person ever in the world!” I nodded to the Memphis girl, she nodded back. I moved on. Amanda says that shit about everybody.

But, goddamn it if she don’t turn out to be right every time.

My deepest thanks to all of you Road Southern readers.

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Especially if you have shows coming up! We’d love to post your dates!

Bursting The Banks

Christ, I think it was almost two years ago! Two years since I first heard Amanda Neill let loose that voice on a hot as all hell night in July. Two years since it thundered but did not rain. That makes this blog o’ mine almost a year old. Christ.

Anyway.

B&B at 3s 1

CD release party at Threes Brewing

Barefoot & Bankside has released a live record. When I first heard them they were doing an open mic at Bar 4. It’s gone now, long gone. B&B, however, has been marching on. They’re getting better, louder, and, Jeebus help us, wilder. I am glad. Having seen Jamey “Brother” Hamm and Amanda stomp and holler in humble beginnings at open mics and then a couple months ago record a live album to a sold-out crowd at Rockwood Music Hall has been a pleasure. It tells me I’m right for hitching my wagon to these folk. You’d be doing yourself a favor, too, for giving them a listen. If’n it’s a review you want, you can go here. But, really, just listen.

I have two codes to download the album. Whoever the first two are to hit me up at theroadsouthern@gmail.com, will get to have ’em as I’m not picky at all about who the two of you might be.

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We Missed Y’all!

Believe it or not, this is NY City. There are worlds here.

Believe it or not, this is NY City. There are worlds here.

Brooklyn WinterThat winter, right? Am I right? It was cold and I hated it. Intrepid photog Andreea and I wanted very much to go to shows and be good bloggers for the people, but that shit was too cold and miserable. We are thawed now. A little sneezy, but we are warmed by the rays of the sun and these southern winds. We are heartened, god damn it, and we want to hear some new music and make new friends! And on June 21st we’ll be getting both. The Road Southern will sojourn on Governors Island for the second annual Porch Stomp! This is a daylong festival of bluegrass, old-time, traditional folk, roots, and country music including a number of workshops and masterclasses, shapenote singing, flatfooting and square dancing! Performances by over 40 new and returning acts from the greater NYC area. Some of them you’ve read about here in the sacred-as-all-get-out pages of The Road Southern.

We will be posting updates to this event as they are meted out to us by the event’s orchestrator Nick Horner who also runs Make Music New York. You can click that link for a look at what went on last year. I can sum up my expectations in two words. Hoot and holler!

Your fearless blogger.

Your fearless blogger.

But, you guys! This Spring, though! Riight!?

HEY!:

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Sometimes A Great Notion

IB&N Black & WhiteA couple of months back I got a text from Trisha Ivy. She was asking me if I thought a live album recording by March 7th at Rockwood Music Hall was doable, if it could be sold out and whatnot. I said, of course. Not because I in anyway know the logistics and plausibility of such things, but because I knew it would happen—because she had decided it was going to happen.

Ivy was a solo act when I first encountered her, and remained so for a bit less than a year since this blog o’ mine started. I’ve gotten to know the sometimes cool, sometimes chill, oft times nine pound hammer of a lady. I’ve learned enough of her to know that what she wills becomes. I’m reminded of the adage “He who knocks will be let in.” But Trisha she don’t always knock, she’s running on her own little clock.

In recent-ish days she’s joined up with Amanda Neill (of B&B) and music virtuoso Mike Beck to form Ivy Beck and Neill. When I first glimpsed what Trisha can will was back in December. She wanted the new band to play in Nashville at the storied Basement venue on a whim, and so it was.IB&N @ Basement

"It's a metaphor."

“It’s a metaphor.”

So, yeah, somewhere in January she idly texted me if a sold out show/live album recording was a feasible feat, but she was really just idly thinking aloud. And what was I gonna say, no? Between then and March 7th I got to see something come from nothing. Not nothing-nothing, they had some songs, they’re all of them consummate performers. I got to see a notion, an inkling of an idea germinate. I was privy to witness or hear accounts of creating songs to fill out the set list as they wanted only Ivy Beck and Neill collaborations for the record. I was at a couple of band meetings where I watched them bicker and fuss over songs. Ivy asked me where to get a five-foot chain to be used as an instrument. Amanda work shopped lyrics for a song of hers, then smartly did away with my input. But still, I found a giddy feeling to be even marginally associated with the band and their endeavor. They were testing out new songs at Strong Place in Cobble Hill. A fight broke out. The band instantly jumped into an impromptu song now called Strong Place Brawl. It’s become a show closing favorite.

IBN & CrowdOn March 7th after hearing how unready, excited, and tired everyone felt, they played a sold-out show at Rockwood Music Hall, and recorded a live album–and crushed it. They did so, because they were always going to.

My being around from start to finish on the project let me feel something for a show that I hadn’t been able to before. These southern/country/Americana folk have always impressed me, and as some of them have become friends I have felt honored. But at Rockwood that night I was proud. They’re all good, hardworking people with day jobs, and personal lives all a flux as any of us. And they barrel forward.

For my part in that journey, and as this blogger who set out on this music scene having no idea where I’m going or what I’m doing, it’s been an inspiration. So, I, too, now forward barrel. And to all of you music makers and artists, maybe bypass the knocking on doors.

HEY!:

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The House of Cracked

               

 

Matt Intvw 1

Cracked Head

Well, I finally got that interview with Matt “Cracked” Frye that y’all didn’t know I was after. I’m sorry, it’s because I keep my fears and desires close to my chest. It’s under the site header called The “Cracked Mother Fucker” Chronicle. And, I’ll try to be more open with you guys in the future about my wants and needs. We’re gonna get through this, y’all. I know we’ll be ok. We’re gonna be ok as fuck.

Cracked Home

Cracked Home

Matt let me into his home for this interview. His wife showed me pictures of a gawky young Mr. Frye from an actual photo album. After the interview, Matt confessed his love and adoration of Taylor Swift. He sang me some songs. I was fed chili. We went to a bar nearby. Matt and Rivka taught me about Unitarianism. A man O.D.ed on heroine in the bathroom. It was my favorite sort of day.

HEY!:

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IVY. BECK. NEILL. DESK (THAT IS TINY).

Last week The Road Southern was honored, thrilled and prouder’n all hell to shoot Ivy, Beck, and Neill’s Tiny Desk Contest entry! Well, intrepid photog Andreea shot the video expertly. I just held the stick that had a magical pointy-looky machine on top, but I did it like a goddamn demon warrior hell bent on saving the whole friggin’ world from its ugly self is all!

Behold, y’all!

And stay tuned (can you say that on the internet? Stay bookmarked?), because TRS has a kickass interview with that “Cracked” Mother Fucker Matt Frye a’coming!

HEY!:

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The Amanda Interview

Tonight in Nashville, Trisha Ivy, Mike Beck, and Miss Amanda Neill will be playing their first show outside of NYC together. I’m confident the unsuspecting folks at The Basement will find themselves blown away.

This interview took place in October. It is this late because I can be lazy, and I hate transcribing interviews. I hate it like I hate hell, and like I hate all Montegues (A li’l nod to Billy Shakes, y’all!).

Before the interview I met up with Amanda at Roots Cafe. We were going to do the interview in her backyard, but construction work made that impossible. We stuffed her bag with some snacks and beers and headed off to Greenwood Cemetery, where neither of us had been. We drank PBR from thermoses. We sat amongst the rotting dead. We talked about faith and good fortune.

I knew it would be God-heavy. I worried it may be a disconnect for me. However, there arose a more important thread in our conversation. Harmony. The young woman as only ever aspired to be a voice that lifts other voices, and is lifted by the voices of others. I knew her when she first came to Brooklyn, a bundle of wild energy. I am happy she has found Jamey Hamm, and Trisha Ivy, and Mike Beck. I know it’s funny to say, but I’m glad she found people who know what to do with her.

Y’all get to know Amanda Simpson Neill! AN Cemetery 3