When did you start playing music?
"I began playing the violin when I was 11 and picked up the guitar when I was 14. My family moved a lot; my dad was an addict and couldn’t keep a job. I found refuge in my room, in music and in writing songs. When I moved to Athens I started a band called Birds & Wire and we had a more bluegrass/jazz sound. Getting back to my country roots, I hooked up with Slow Records engineer/producer C.K. Koch, who allowed me the freedom to flesh out my original visions for the songs. The result is my most recent album, Have You Met Lera Lynn? and I think it’s a much more candid representation of my style.
What direction did you take the music?
"In the last year I've realized that country music is my heart and soul, and when I try to cover that up it’s not much good."
What did you grow up listening to?
"I supposed I took lyrical inspiration from Joni Mitchell and, in my mind, Ray Charles taught me how to sing. My dad was rocking the 38 Special, Hank Williams Jr. and Sr. and Patsy Cline. I listened to a lot of '80s country giants like George Jones and Waylon Jennings."
How old were you when you played your first gig?
"I was 15, and my mom convinced this Mexican restaurant that I was a national recording artist and about to explode. They hired me to play cover songs once a week for a couple of hours. I haven’t been paid that well since!"
You've got a unique, laid-back look. Tell us about your stage style staples?
"My vintage Florsheim ankle boots work with just about any look, Western or mod or rock. They are also super comfortable and allow me to move confidently about the stage. And, they're great for stomp-along percussion if the moment arises! I also love any high-waisted pants and jeans. They're so simple, '70s-sexy, stylish and easy to move in. They can make a plain outfit look put-together."
And particular style inspirations you can share?
"Lately I've actually been taking a lot of inspiration from men's clothing, suits, and western wear. Johnny Cash is someone I often try to emulate as well as many other country and Western stars pre-1980, sans the hair."
Any dream duets?
"Phew! There are so many musicians I'd love to work with. My first thought was "Ray Charles, yeah!" but on second thought, I know he would just smash me. There'd be no duet to it. I'd love to sing and/or write with A.A. Bondy or Cary Ann Hearst, two contemporaries that I greatly admire and respect."
Heels or no heels on stage?
"I'm gonna answer with a question: Booze or no booze? Pick your battles. You can never combine the two in quantity on stage. Only two drinks per inch."
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