Videos by American Songwriter
HOMETOWN: Dalton, Pennsylvania
CURRENT LOCATION: Scranton, Pennsylvania
AMBITIONS: Full-time touring band.
TURN-OFFS: Sleezy promoters and bad vibes.
TURN-ONS: Campfire jams, hugs and baked goods.
DREAM GIG: Ryman Auditorium.
FAVORITE LYRIC: “Oh, have you seen those lonesome doves, flying from pine to pine? They’re mourning for their own true loves, just like I mourn for mine…” from the song “The Storms are on the Ocean” by The Carter Family.
SONG I WISH I WROTE: “Winding Wheel” by Ryan Adams.
5 PEOPLE I’D MOST LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH: Abraham Lincoln, Mr T., Levon Helm, Gram Parsons, Hank Williams.
MY FAVORITE CONCERT EXPERIENCE: John Prine at the Mann Center in Philly a few years ago with my dad. He started the show with “6 o’clock News.” It was heavy. My father knew every word to every song. I’ll never forget it.
I WROTE THIS SONG BECAUSE… It’s not really a secret how awful coal mining was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially in Northeastern Pennsylvania. There are many songs that touch on this topic, and I figured one more wouldn’t hurt. I took a lot from stories I heard from everyday people in this area – lots of children and grandchildren of coal miners occupy Scranton and the surrounding towns. I had barely finished the tune, and I played it at a local coffee house open mic. After I was done, a guy told me a story about his grandfather who survived a mine cave in. During the commotion, a man from the coal company said over the loud speaker, “Save the mules.” Workers were expendable but mules, which pulled the coal carts out of the mine, were not. I was also into the idea of writing a “disaster song.” Charlie Louvin of the Louvin Brothers has an album called Charlie Louvin Sings Murder Ballads and Disaster Songs…. I’m a newcomer to song writing and most of my influences are old bluegrass and country music. Most of those tunes are “Come back/I miss you/You did me wrong” kind of tunes, which I love. This was one of the first ones I wrote that had no mention of me crying.