Jamey Hamm had a little baby girl. Amanda Neill bought Roots Café from him so that he could be a stay at home dad. This was back in February. There was little BK Country for me at that time, yet I still hatched the idea to begin a blog revolving around the southern/country scene of Brooklyn and NYC at large. I swear it’s that photo of Trisha Ivy that got me saying “BK Country.” Maybe something Jamey said or wrote…? “BK Country.” That sounds like a thing, doesn’t it? Feels like a thing, anyway. Thing enough for me to start this. Somewhere in that BK Country lull, I heard a song. It gave me the title of this blog, and once the blog had a name, lull or not, it was time to begin.
The first show I went to with notebook in hand was Trisha’s performance at Hometown BBQ. This was also my first trek into Red Hook. Geographically speaking, it’s close by, but no trains go there. Busses barely go there. However, my bicycle got me there in a flash. It’s odd when a city has remote areas within itself. This makes bicycle travel feel freeing. There were people I wanted to invite to the show, but they would not be able to make the journey without more planning. Not me. One pant leg hiked up to keep it out of the gears and with the wind in my hair, I got there faster than cars, even. Once inside Hometown, I said, hi, to Amanda and her husband, and took a spot at the bar. The interior of Hometown BBQ is that of a road house. Big open floors with old-wood tables. A couple of giant ‘Merican flags. They smoke their own meats in house. A ball field is next door, and a softball team was in line with me. There were families. There were fat old men and women. There was beer and whiskey. It felt like I was back home. Later, I would be surprised the owner, Billy Durney, is Brooklyn born and raised. A big fella, his attire struck me as “Walter” from The Big Lebowski. He traveled around the south, all of it. He said he liked what he saw, and liked what he ate.
Trisha played. She had a guitarist, Mike Beck, that picked and strummed as country as any, but I found out he, too, is a Yankee, and a jazz trained one at that. Amanda got up on stage with her. They make a unique pair, Trisha and Amanda. Amanda who retains a Sunday modesty in her dress; very humble, but not at all shy. Trisha, with a measure of flare, asserts herself before her audience. Amanda, a raw and reactive nerve in regards to that voice of hers. Trisha exudes more control as she reigns in and unleashes accordingly. Jamey has this quality, as well. This is not to say Amanda is wild or impulsive. She simply gets lost in a song, and Trisha and Jamey are wise to let her.
There was a ton of food afterwards, and plenty more drinks. I got to meet everybody. Amanda’s husband, Christian, advised me to seek out The Lone Bellow who live in Brooklyn. Riding home on my bike drunk was its own liberation. Until I got to 4th Ave, it seemed like I was the only soul in Brooklyn. The air was chill, and at night even the Gowanus canal can appear charming. I thought about the idea of making The Lone Bellow a mission. I thought about Trisha helping to clean the restaurant after we ate, and Amanda’s new ownership of Roots Café. I thought of all the hours I’ve put into day jobs here. Work, toil, is not meaningless in this city. At least, not for those of us who came here with the wholly daunting and nigh-unreachable goal of becoming who we know we can be. A father. A successful business owner. A BK Country star. A real writer.
The song that brought me this blog’s name is not a country song, and not from the south. In fact, if someone had described it to me, I probably wouldn’t listen. It’s not necessarily my thing. But its post-industrial rhythms, its art-pop ambition, and its encouraging lyrics that never dip into platitudes give me a sense of trudging forward, maintaining vision, and keeping balance. It’s become my anthem.