Oh lord, take me west.
"Playing those damn tom toms is a waste of time and won't get you anywhere in life!" a quote from Don Plahy, my step father. Now don't you get it twisted. He's a good man and he's the one that bought me my first drum set to bang on. He's never cared about my music much, but he's the one who instilled work ethic in me that got me where I am today. As a man and in turn, a musician.
Back up a few years. "The Gruene Yonder" was formed between three boys that met in a church youth group. Thats my first band. "Punk" rock, we called it. Playing in Brandon Barger's (bass guitar) parent's basement, or Rory Grametbaurs (guitar) closet, acoustically. For some dumb reason the church trusted three wild teens with the master key to the youth building. Big P.A. system, lighting system, big screen projector, you get the idea. We partied hard and played loud. There may or may not have been private concerts, with our band and other bands in the church.
Fast forward some years. Sure, I played in a few different bands throughout high school, but this is when songwriting became a passion of mine. My very first recording of my own song was done when I was 16 years old, on a BOSS 1600CD digital home studio. That thing was awesome. In fact I still have it!
In 2007 or so, I started playing drums for John Evans Band. Me, coming from a punk rock background, well lets just say playing rockabilly and western music was not my forte. John wanted to kick me out of the band for playing so many damn cymbals, but Jake Marchese (Upright Bass) talked him into giving me another chance. John, being big, bold, and sassy from that good ol' fire water, took away ALL my cymbals, mid set, at a live show. After that it all clicked. I was a rockabilly, western swinging' Mofo after all! We went on to join the tour with John's good friend Hayes Carll after we did our own tour up through the midwest and Canada. We ended up stealing the show because of our good looks and great hairdos. Hayes never invited us back to tour with him, saying we were stealing all the pretty ladies from his band. Oh well, it was a good run.
I guess all that touring just wasn't thrilling enough for me. In 2009, I shipped off to bootcamp. After a vision I had and some spiritual enlightenment, I knew I had to become a United States Marine. So I left a good job, a great band, and my beloved hometown to fight for my countryfolk. After becoming and Artillery Radar Operator, I was stationed in Camp Lejeune, NC. I deployed once to Afghanistan. I was tasked to maintain a counter motar radar system and conduct base defense operations in Delaram and Nimroz. Day and night, I lived behind either a Ma Duece (M2 .50 caliber machine gun) or the 240B (.308 caliber machine gun). Life was simple then. Hard, but cut and dry. Didn't sleep much. At one point, I didn't get to take a real shower for 4 months. Talk about a funk. My back will never be the same from wearing 50+ lbs of gear, off-roading in a M-ATV or MRAP turret multiple times a day. Had the best and worst times of my life in the Marine Corps and it is still the most fulfilling thing I have ever done and I am a proud USMC veteran, and I love my country.
Getting out of the Marine Corps, I thought I could go back to life as it was before. Well... I did just that. I got my old job back. Got to play shows here and there with the old band, and played in a couple others. Got a house. Started a company, had a bad business partner, had to dissolve it. Other than that, It was all exactly how I left it. I, however, was so drastically different. Now mind you, this is a recent revelation. Back then, in real time, I was lost and confused. I began to write songs again, throwing so many in the garbage. I was deeply wounded and depressed. Man, who know's how many great sad country songs you'll never hear because of that! Sorry y'all. I wasn't right in the head. Still ain't, but I am one happy camper now. Years later, I married a beautiful woman, Katilyn Polk Pummill. She is my best friend. She made me a proud father. Our daughter Finlay is absolutely beautiful and has shown me love I've never knew existed in my own heart. Life is good!
So what's all this have to do with the music? Well, everything. The thoughts constructed in my head with every crazy life event comes through me in song form. You want to get to know me? Listen to the songs. I play my emotions on the strings and sing it like I lived it. I don't hide it from you when I've got an instrument in my hand, and I never will. I can't. It's too spiritual.
Every day that I spent in the Middle East (Afghanistan), not knowing if it was my last, I remembered playing music with my friends, drinking beer with my pops, having deep conversations with my momma, listening to new music with my sister, you know, just living the good life. The American Dream. Every single day I spent in that unforgiving land, I prayed one simple prayer...
Oh lord, take me west.