Linescratchers welcomes Allie Ruth, a new music interviewer and reviewer from Kentucky. Allie is an open-minded music fan with a degree in public relations and advertising. – Syphax
If you aren’t a fan of country, now would be a good time to get interested. I had the opportunity to interview Dusty Dee, country music artist from Alberta, Canada. What I found was a musician who has taken traditional country/western music and mixed it with modern country style to form unique, fun, and catchy music.
Dusty Dee talks about his songwriting process, growing up in rural Alberta, and what sets him apart from Nashville pop-country.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started in the music industry?
A: My mom first got me up on stage when I was 4 years old singing The Farmer Song and Strawberry Roan! I’ve been singing ever since. I was born and raised on the prairies of Alberta and my music reflects my rural upbringing. My grandpa used to sing me old cowboy songs, and that style of music has kinda stuck to me. Although my music reflects various other influences, I’d like to think that cowboy music lies at the core.
Your song “Faded Trails” reminds me of Alan Jackson’s “Midnight in Montgomery.” What was your inspiration for the song?
A: Thanks! I like that song, Midnight in Montgomery; eerie kinda feel to it. And now that you mention it, there’s a lot of things in common between the two. Faded Trails is based on a piece of prose that my Grandpa wrote. It’s about a town called Purple Springs near where my Great-Grandpa and his family homesteaded. Grandpa always talks about the old days when they used to take the horse and buggy into town to pick up supplies. The song Faded Trails is about him taking a ride on his horse back through the old town site, long after it faded into the prairies. The lack of water and a couple prairie fires crippled the town. Only a few foundation stones remain and the remnants of an old wagon trail. The song is from the point of view of the town. It was very interesting writing a song from that point of view. Different. Never done that before.
The lyrics to your song “All the Good Ones are Gone” is not about what I thought it was going to be about! Tell me how you came up with it.
A: I get that a lot. All The Good Ones Are Gone is the title track for my debut CD. I think that title has a different meaning on the cover of the CD than it does in the song. Kinda works two ways I guess. Anyways, about the song. While I was serving a mission in Florida, we had an investigator who loved folk music. One night we sat down with the guitar and played a couple songs back and forth. He played an Arlo Guthrie song and said “You need to write a song like that!” Well, that got me thinking, and a few nights later I came up with the line All The Good Ones Are Gone. Well, a reference to Arlo, some poking fun at my self, and the song was done.
Your music is an older style of country, reminding me of the “Greats” like Conway Twitty and Patsy Cline, mixed with modern “greats” like George Strait and Clint Black. Did you have one artist or a group in particular that inspired your sound?
A: All of the above! I love listening to the classics. From Hank Williams to Waylon Jennings. Garth Brooks, George Strait, and Dwight Yoakam all have a place on my musical shelf. And I often pull cover songs from them during my live shows! One songwriter that has heavily influenced me is Kris Kristofferson. He can write a song about a very specific topic, and yet the feelings he describes are universal. Take Sunday Morning Coming Down, a song about a Sunday morning hangover. I have never had a hangover and yet I understand every feeling that is portrayed in that song. I try to write my songs that way. I like to tell stories in my songs about specific things, but I hope that the feelings that I portray are universal for all to understand.
Why did you pick Country Music?
A: Country and Western music picked me. I don’t know why it did. I tried to fight it in high school, but it got the best of me. I think it had to do a lot with my upbringing. I love telling stories, and country music is a good vehicle for that.
Do you tour? If so, when and where can a fan come and listen to your music? If not, is there a tour in the works?
A: Most of my show right now are very regional. My son turns 1-year-old next week, so I’d prefer not to be halfway around the country right now. Summer usually keeps me pretty busy though. I play a lot of the local fairs and Cowboy Gatherings. If you’re in Alberta or BC, take a look on my website, I’ll post my upcoming shows up there.
Do your fans know that you are LDS? How is that received?
A: I’m not really sure how many of my fans know that I’m LDS. Most know that I don’t drink, that I’m a family man, and I’m center my life around Christian beliefs, but I’m not sure how many know that I’m LDS.
CMT Canada has you listed as a Community Artist! Congratulations! Tell us how you made that connection.
A: Sounds pretty cool doesn’t it! It’s just like any other social networking site where anyone can sign up and pretend that they are cool. Nothing really great about that one, sorry.
What do you want people to get out of your music?
A: Enjoyment. I want people to listen to the music and enjoy themselves. Whether it’s an upbeat song that they can dance to, a catchy chorus that they can sing along with, a story telling song that they can relate to, or song that reminds them of home, I want the listener to enjoy themselves.
A lot of people not knowing the country music industry have an ideal of what country music is. Do you feel that you follow the mainstream country artists and sing about “drinkin’, dogs, girls, and trucks?” Why or why not?
A: Oh, I definitely have my songs about “drinkin’, dogs, girls, and trucks” but I’d like to think that my songs have a little more substance to them than the standard country radio song. Maybe that’s just hopeful wishing. It seems like everything that comes on the radio is just a re-incarnation of last month’s hit song. And I guess that’s the money making side of Nashville coming out. Find what makes money, rinse and repeat. Every once in a while I hear a new artist on the radio that sounds like they might break the mold, but they usually fall right back into that same cycle. And I’ve never been one for Country-Pop music anyways.
What is your process for writing music?
A: Find what makes money, rinse, repeat… :sarcasm: I keep a notebook of ideas. Whenever I get an idea for a song, I write it down. They usually come to me when I don’t have time to write, so I put them away for later. When I do get a few minutes to sit down and write, I take a look at my book of ideas and usually come up with something entirely different to write about. Every song is a different process, but I usually like to get a chorus ironed out first. I’ll play around with different chord progressions and melodic sequences. Then I’ll scratch my head and try to come up with verses to support the chorus. Then I’ll change the chorus and throw everything else in the garbage! Once I get a basic song together, I’ll go to the local open mic and give it a try. I like to get feedback from other songwriters in the area. Then I’ll do a basement recording and post it online for my online songwriting buddies to critique. After a couple rewrites (or sometimes none), I’ll label the song as DONE. But done is never a permanent label.
If interested listeners want to hear more of your music, where would they look/go?
A: My website, www.DustyDee.com usually has a couple songs up that you can take a listen to. You can purchase a physical CD on http://www.CDBaby.com, or you can purchase digital downloads from iTunes, http://www.amazon.com, or http://www.CDBaby.com.