Chris Haddox will be bringing his multi-instrumentalist folk country skills to the Born & Bred Concert Series at The Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center on November 11th with A Tale Of Two and Taylor Made and host Aristotle Jones. We recently spoke to Chris about his West Virginia roots and his upcoming performance at the Concert Series. You can get your tickets to the concert series by clicking here: The Robinson Grand
BB: Where in West Virginia do you come from and where does the band hail from?
I was born and raised in Logan, West Virginia, and have made Morgantown, WV my home base for the past 35 or so years.
BB: Who are some influences on your music and writing style?
My family has influenced my music in countless ways. Perhaps it was hearing my mom and dad always singing around the house when I was growing up–show tunes, popular music–whatever…they were just always singing. My uncle Jim Haddox–my dad’s older brother–was a huge influence on me…he was a wonderful country blues singer and guitar player (I play his old guitar to this day). My siblings were always listening to music and I absorbed whatever it was they were digesting at the time. When I went to college I was exposed to an incredible number of talented musicians of differing genres, and I usually found something of interest in whatever I was listening to–all of which filter into my music at some level. Of course there are the famous songwriters that weather or not I’m thinking about them when writing, they are in the room–some of those would be the Delmore Brothers, Don Gibson, John Prine, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Cindy Walker, Loretta Lynn, many genres/many styles…all great story tellers.
BB: How has being from West Virginia influenced your music?
West Virginia has such a rich musical heritage that it is impossible for it not to creep into my own musical creations. The storytelling tradition colors my lyrics, the scenery, the ups and downs of a life lived in the mountains–those color my melodies and instrument choices. I have learned so much from so many right here in The Mountain State that I could not keep them out of my music even if I tried to.
BB: What can people expect from your set?
Hmm…laughs, tears, head scratching, joy, sorrow, sarcasm, irony. I was taught by my parents to pay attention to the world around you and to speak my mind. They both had a wicked sense of humor and were fearless in going through life. I like to think some of that rubbed off on me and makes its’ appearance in my lyrics and playing.
BB: Who are some West Virginia artists you’re listening to?
Depends on the setting. At home I really don’t listen to much music at all. When I do, I tend to listen to instrumentalists…from WV’s past and present. I sometimes have the opportunity to do shows with other WV musicians, and I just love to sit back and take in what they are doing. I’d not want to list particular musicians here as I’d surely omit someone who I really enjoy and who I think is doing great stuff, so suffice it to say that I believe WV has as much or more to offer on the musical front than any other place I can think of.
BB: What else are you listening to currently?
I was most recently listening to loads of classic country music–from the 40s-60s…Haggard, Jones, Parton, Wynette, Lynn, Gibson…was prepping for a big Honky Tonk dance in Morgantown, so brushing up on my twangy guitar playing and singing! I tend to go back to old familiar songs that have appealed to me for decades…always trying to decipher exactly what it is about a particular line or phrase that has made it stay with me for so long. As part of a folk music heritage project I’ve been curating for the past several years, I am often listening to old field recordings from the coalfields of southern WV…people from my home county of Logan who were recorded singing/playing in their homes back in the 1940s….magical stuff it is.
BB: What inspired you or took you down the path of music?
I expressed interest in music at a very early age, and started on piano at age 6. Took up saxophone at around age 9-10, guitar about that same time. I’m not sure why, but music has always been something that moved me deeply. It was in 1981, however, that I decided I needed to try music as a career. I’d written songs for a long time and upon hearing an album of recordings made by The Delmore Brothers back in the late 20s-early 30s….the 1920s-1930s…I just knew I had to quit school and move to Nashville to try my hand at songwriting. I’ve zigged and zagged in many directions over my life, but music has been my constant companion…I’ve never tired of it.
BB: One song you want people to listen to from your catalog if they were to say, “Hey what do you sound like?”
O’, boy…that is a tough one. I kinda pride myself on the diversity of my sound–or if playing alone, at least the diversity of my lyrics and topics I’ll cover. One of my more popular cuts is a song called Sunday Morning Stoplight. Folks seem to like the combination of simple, easy to remember/somewhat familiar chording, the solemness with which I approach a seemingly silly topic of a stoplight, and the way the lyric is crafted and rhymed. But…if you want a real feel for my style and sound…it’s going to take more than a one-song listen!