How Craig Fehrman Got It Totally Right About My Home (And Cage The Elephant) with Home Grown

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I had heard there was a guy poking around.  Most everyone who mentioned it just said he was some New York writer.  Maybe working on something for Rolling Stone. Or Spin.  Or he was doing a documentary. 

Since Cage The Elephant skyrocketed in popularity and more importantly retained their place on the fame meter through their first, second, and it is looking positive on their third record —lots of people have been here, or in Nashville, or just around.  Poking around.  The difference was that this guy (who turned out to be Craig Fehrman, surprise!) was poking around with the right sources.  Connie Collingsworth from Print Mafia.  Tommy Starr from d93.  Jeremi Simon from SCHOOLS. He had the right voices gathered and when he released Home Grown as an Amazon single, I immediately downloaded it and expected  it to either be a grand character/city study or to prepare to skewer him on all social media and demand my $1.99 back.

It’s really great.   Like, great.  Great enough for me to e-stalk and privately facebook message Craig halfway through my reading it and applaud him.

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And then have him do the interview below.

Young Mary’s Record: Hi Craig.  Big congratulations on the release of Home Grown : Cage the Elephant and the Making of a Modern Music Scene !   Four days after publication, how ya feelin’ ?

Craig Fehrman: Pretty good! I’ve heard nice things from quite a few Bowling Green bands and readers, and that’s always the best feedback — when your subjects say you got them right.
 

YMR: This release is a “digital single” — and a triumphant piece of long-form journalism.  Do you expect releases of this type to be an upcoming trend/ successful way for thorough reporting (both music and otherwise) to survive and be respected properly in the 24-news cycle we currently are shackled (or self-tied) to?

CF: Well, first, that’s really kind of you to say. I know a handful of Singles have done very well, but I don’t think even Amazon can predict where this trend will go. There’s no question the format lets writers slow down and think hard — I worked on this, off and on, for a year. But who can tell how many readers the Singles (my Single!) will attract? It’s half exciting, half nerve-wracking.
 
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(print from Matthew Taylor Wilson — available at Society 6: HERE.)

YMR: After writing over 20,000 words on our little burg, would you ever live here?

CF: Oh, in a heartbeat! My wife and I are moving back to Indiana, where we both grew up, in a few weeks. If I wasn’t such a Hoosier partisan, we would have looked seriously at Bowling Green. As it is, we’re moving to Bloomington, a city that feels very similar. Bowling Green’s a terrific place. I hope that comes through in “Home Grown.”
 

YMR: You open Home Grown as you’re crossing on a hipster-filled ferry to see Cage The Elephant play live.  Did you already at that point have the arc of the story (e.g. their BG connection and our music scene)even slightly in mind, or when did that develop?

CF: You’re smart to detect a bit of writerly subterfuge in the first chapter. Here’s how the Single came about: I grew up in a small town and have always wondered how a band makes it out of a place like that. When I finally decided to write about this, I looked into a few contemporary rock bands. Cage quickly emerged as the perfect case study. It didn’t hurt that I already owned (and loved) their first two albums! 
Anyway, in “Home Grown“‘s first chapter I make myself seem a little clueless, but only because I’m trying to create suspense. Non-Bowling Green readers will probably be surprised by how exciting your scene is, so I tried to make myself a proxy for that — wait, Cage is from where? And they’re playing in New York City? Like I said, writerly subterfuge, but only to suck readers in.
Wow, that turned out to be a very boring and insider-y answer!

YMR: Name a band you’d absolutely hate (or you imagine you’d probably hate) following around in a project similar to this.

CF: Is Nickelback too obvious an answer? Either way, Businessweek did it so you and I don’t have to. If you’re so inclined: the story is HERE.

YMR: What’s next for you — Will this be the last of your CTE adventures — and have you ever considered putting out a Limited Edition print version of this with some pretty swag behind-the-scenes photos and like… a Print Mafia-designed cover?  Yes, I’d love to help. 

CF: What’s next? Packing and moving! As for the limited edition, I’m honestly not sure how the Amazon rights work with this, but I’m a huge fan of Print Mafia’s work — I was even before the story. So for now let’s see how the digital version does and go from there!
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My ultimate conclusion:

The thing about me living in Bowling Green and being involved in the music (in whatever capacity) is that I’m not like big pals with Cage The Elephant.  Now, don’t be a douchenozzle and read that as me not liking Cage The Elephant.  Or me startin’ some painfully hipster street battle where Brad Schultz whips my ass with a guitar that turns into a light saber while I too-slowly dig in my pocket for a Power Rangers throwing star.  I - of course - know who they are and — of course — support and appreciate on a massive level what they’ve done for this town, specifically the mentality of local musicians.   What I mean is I haven’t like — “done hangs” with them.  My social circle was different than theirs and the only thing I think is more bullshit than our local Mr. Gatti’s closing is making friends with someone just because of who they “are” or “became.”

Now, that’s not to say I won’t make friends with them.  Or that I haven’t ever had a short, poignant conversation on local music and Dex Romweber Duo and Jack White with Matt (singer) over gummy bears at Rocky’s Bar.  Or that I wasn’t flouncing around on the stairs in one of their music videos and making various other limited cameos in the music video above. Or that I don’t have an interesting take on them.  I feel lucky that I get to watch from so close, but far away — ya know, seeing the waves of their success and their very real, closeknit friendship with the city of Bowling Green itself and what it does.  Which is alot.  You see, the dream of music is ageless and CTE’s success gave a new hope to singers and strummers of all ages and genres in this region.  Jumped some stalled motors, if you will.  Having an American Dream story this big in our city is a miracle in today’s economy and in the state of music industry.  Whether you grew up and shared a babysitter or a blunt with Cage, or you’re like me skirting on their circle’s edge, or you’re like Craig Fehrman — a writer that truly nails this …our story, it’s a big deal.  They’re a big deal.  What they have done is a big deal.

If you’re a Cage fan, or a “music” reader - or just a reader - or a Kentuckian — If you’ve got a brain - If you appreciate fantastic writing and reporting - If you need something to do with your evening that isn’t slop tv  - Download Home Grown : HERE.

Dig this?  Dig YMR?  Don’t just sit there, bust a like.



28 Things That Happened While I was 28 that I’m Grateful For

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On my birthday, like most people, I get real reflective.  It quickly becomes a boring self-assessment of “where am I going, where have I been” that is only truly forgivable on the day you were plopped, nude and squawking, into this world.   Turns out 28 was a pretty great year for me, especially in context with 27 and 26 and most of 25.  And some of 24.  And several months at 23 that I was a super loner.  Nobody likes you when you’re 23, really.

Above is a picture of me at my birthday party/show last year with some of my closest friends.  Mike (upper left) was not happy.  Tommy (center, only head visible) was overly happy.

Below is a picture of me as the clock struck midnight on my actual birthday last year.  I was alone in my former apartment where I lived in my own “noise prison” above an elderly couple, one of which was terminally ill and desperately in need of me to not wear any semblance of a shoe or walk, really.. at all.  I had been crying for a couple hours.  Sitting around.  Ignoring most of the texts I got inviting me to dinner or drinks or conversation.  My long-distance boyfriend at the time was in another city and was reacting to me like the petulant child I was being.  Because that is who I am -  a petulant child that wants a big damn hoopla made out of my birthday, as if I’m the only person who’s ever been born.  

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Also - I’m pretty sure that is Hawaiian Punch stain on my lip corners, but the shirt is just tye-died.  Enough of that bummer and back to things I heavily enjoyed at 28.

1. Natalie Grace Alford sings me Happy Birthday. 

A brilliant singer and one of the few things I discovered in Chicago that I really can get behind, Natalie has personality and legs for days - a lovely vocal range, and the songwriting chops to showcase said voice.  I just find her to be great, and now as I watch her prepare to record and release a record — and keep on keepin’ on - I am more and more flattered to have had this very personal birthday song just for me.  If you find yourself immediately charmed by her like I was — please hit her IndieGoGo campaign  HERE and consider throwing in a few bucks!  She’s halfway there!

2. Saw Wanda Jackson Live on New Year’s Eve in Chicago, IL.

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New Year’s Eve was basically a bust every year since my brother and I chopped up our own confetti…. until Wanda.  A fan of her from the pre-Jack White era and a loyal of the post-Jack White era — e.g. REAL STREET CRED FAN — I think the first Wanda tune I ever heard was Big Iron Skillet.  On New Year’s, she was as charming and funny and on as she always is — including bringing her hubby Wendell up on stage for a saucy New Years kiss.  Those two hot tamales! I tell ya!

3.  Took beautiful photos of my friends and started working on Young Mary’s Record more seriously and consistently (It’s gonna get even better, guys, I swanee!)

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This is Ali Townsend.  She is one of the most beautiful people I know — and non-surprisingly- is adept at making everyone else I know beautiful, too.  She’s also really funny.  And smart.  And weird.  My type of gal.   If you need your hair to make your face better, or your face to make your hair better — she’s a genius.  You can find her: HERE.  And you can like the YMR page for the sake of my birthday and pandering: HERE.

4.  Called dibs on my own Maker’s Mark barrel.  

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It took years to get there - but only 30 minutes from my childhood front door — is the Maker’s Mark distillery.  Hit the link HERE to see my post about visiting — and I’ll even tell you how you can call dibs on your own barrel as well!

5. My hair went REAL RED.  My brain is still brunette.

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6. Welcomed Lucero to BG with my sweet pals Larry and Michelle at The Warehouse at Mt. VIctor.

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(photo by : the talented Justin Blodgett.)

7.  Discovered — with credit due to Shooter Jennings and Misty Swain Jennings — the songwriter and wild man extraordinaire , Mr. Billy Don Burns.

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This dude is for real.  If you’re one of those folks that moans and groans about songwriters that don’t live their songs — then Billy Don Burns should be your Messiah.   Hit this trailer for the upcoming documentary “Talk about Crazy” - thank me later.


I particularly like the portion of the interview where BDB expresses his hope to turn the Grand Ole Opry down if they ask him to play again. Now, see #8 on my list.

8.  First backstage experience at the Grand Ole Opry - honored to see Shooter Jennings, Jessi Colter, & Billy Don Burns take the stage. 

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Also wanted to include this night - because I took my favorite photo of the year of a road warrior Outlaw fan of the decades, Bandana,  sitting underneath this portrait of Minnie Pearl.  Just lovely.

9. Upgraded Kentucky Prophet Mike Farmer from acquaintance to friend.  Oh - and then we spent a Tidball’s night out on the town with Frank Black (Pixies).

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I love Mike for so many reasons that it is silly — in addition to being like more talented (and alive) than Freddy Mercury — he has an emotional depth that so many people like me (petulant Scorpio child) need very badly to level with them.  He’s a genius.  A talent. 

10. Grazed my fingers up the legs and hips that made Dwight Yoakam what he is today right before taking this photo with my beau Jon.

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This was on Dwight’s bus outside of the Ryman.  On the way home from this show late late that night, Dwight told Jon to play me The Stanley Brothers.  He did — and then he played me even more Dwight. 

11.  Attended my first ever Goose on the Lake Festival in Allegre, KY.  And got to watch one of my very favorites, Patson One Man Band - knock ‘em dead.

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In addition to going to this great festival (chiefs of this pow-wow are Lloyd Settle and Jon)— I contributed this article to Kentucky Monthly : HERE.

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12. We watched two of our best friends get married.  In an amazing place.  In the California desert.  

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Really.  They’re like our best friends.  And I’ll not hesitate to mentally abuse anybody that ever questions/assaults their love in real life or on a People Magazine online post.  We’re like bizarro them and they’re bizarro us. 

13. I got my wrestling education from two of the most knowledgeable sources …

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and then got to watch as they nervously met one of their idols.

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14. Took a few moments to visit with THE VOICE, Vern Gosdin.

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15.  We’re a dark coupla’ folks, eh?  Spent a couple hours in the  Museum of Death in LA.

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16.  Had lunch at the first ever KFC location in Corbin, KY. 

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17.  Graced the presence of another icon - Mr. Merle Haggard.

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Take your own guesses at what is going on in this photo.  And then, listen to his track “The Downside” — if you can.

18.  Icon meet-n-greet section of the list.  Here’s Jon, me and Los Angeles legend, Christopher Dennis.

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I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit to being a bit more starstruck by the “confessions of a superhero’ star above than Merle Haggard, at first.  The documentary nerd in me places that film in my top 5.  I gave Dennis a $20 tip in exchange for this photo and a polaroid he autographed.  Yeep!  (Confessions of a Superhero is available on Netflix.)

18. And to wrap up the icon part of the list — Me, Jon and Mick Foley. 

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Nashville, TN at Zanie’s.  I promise to post an entire (long overdue!) blog about his set and why I adore him as a wrestler and as a human being.

19. My first ever trip to Graceland!

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On a road trip to Oklahoma City — a stop at Graceland was a must-do.  Yet another thing Jon has educated me on — and I couldn’t ask for a better teacher — is Elvis Presley.  Didn’t need the headphones to guide us since I had that dude. 

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20.  Devoured this tiny chocolate piano at the TPAC Gala.

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21. Was present to see a very deserving Colonel Jon become a Kentucky Colonel.

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22. First concert with my parents in years at Renfro Valley to see Shooter.

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I’m lucky to have great parents and a great relationship with them.  They are my very best friends and I would have nothing (literally and figuratively) without them.  Plus, they’re really smart and really funny.

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23. Fed a Baby Cow.

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This little baby lost Mama Cow a day or two before we went to visit Lloyd on his farm for a night.  One thing I hate is the morning — functioning anytime before 11am - but I got up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 9am for this baby-feeding.  I felt like it was worth the exception- that it would be good for me - and I was right. 

24. Made friends with Ron Jeremy..

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and sampled his really great Ron De Jeremy Rum. (Available in stores in Nashville.)

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When Jon first told me that he was pals with Ron Jeremy — my mind went to the gutter like most people’s do when I tell them I consider Ron a friend, now.  So, you’re forgiven.  But the truth about Ron is — he’s a smart, fascinating charmer even if you didn’t know what he’s packing in his pants and what he can do/has done with it. I’d credit him as one of the most famous porn stars of my generation and in the several vignettes of time I’ve spent him in varying circumstances, I’ve watched fan after fan approach him and Ron greet and interact with them in A+ pro manner.  He nails it.   (Pun completely intended.)

25.  Adventured to Hazard, KY.

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One of my favorite stopovers all year - our darling pal Wesley Fields was cordial enough to host us in his Hazard, KY cabin earlier in the year.  It was beautiful and made from his own hands.  My entire post is : HERE.

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26.  Got away into the woods.

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One of the most surprising and great-for me things that Jon had added to my life is making sure that we get out into the backwoods from time to time.  It makes me breathe.  See.  Look, too.  Take in context. 

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27.  29th Birthday Trip to LA

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Nice hotel digs paired with a sidetrip to see Lucinda Williams in the desert and stay at the famous Joshua Tree Inn where Gram Parson’s spirit still hangs?  I definitely met a dude who has caught on to the Scorpio petulant child desires and far exceeded them — which leads to #28.

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28.  Met Jon Hensley.

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I wrote a note to Jon in his birthday card this year that said “Thank you for making me believe in the practice of love” and that sums it up.  Many of the great things that happened to me at 28 are because of Jon - and I couldn’t imagine them being nearly as vibrant if he weren’t there.  Really, I can’t imagine them being much fun at all without him.  He’s strong and infectious and brilliant and a gorgeous man.   And most importantly, we see each other’s whole arc.  Light, dark, grey.

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My point?  You can start a year off with a sobbing selfie and end it with a really long blog about how pleasantly surprising and great your year was.  Keep going. 

And don’t just sit there, bust a LIKE.