art theplaceThere’s no place like home. Amid my first few weeks living in Western North Carolina, there were times I got homesick. Though I have bounced around the country for many years now, I, too, have moments where I start to miss things familiar to me.

I missed the faces that have known me my whole life, the voices and eyes I’ve heard and looked into since I was a child. I missed the smells of the fall foliage in the North Country (Upstate New York/Vermont) and the taste of real maple syrup. I missed the cold rivers and ancient peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. I missed it all.

Wandering through Facebook, browsing friends from home, seeing how life was back home, I came across a link for a new North Country band — Eastbound Jesus. The name caught my eye. I had to listen to whatever tone was attached to that moniker. So, I got hold of their albums — and I was hooked.

Eastbound Jesus is the North Country. The sextet’s hardscrabble blend of folk, rock and string music soothed my road-worn soul. With each melody echoing from the speakers, I could feel each snowflake from another hard Canadian border winter, each brightly colored leaf drifting down to the ground, each spark from a backcountry bonfire, each voice and face of someone I missed dearly.

And that’s the ultimate power of music, which is being able to not only connect you with the world, but also retain a snapshot of your life and memories each time you spin a tune. Listening to a record can be like looking through a photo album of your life, and Eastbound Jesus opened up the scrapbook of my past.

The Smoky Mountain News recently caught up with Eastbound Jesus drummer Carl Anderson. He spoke of the band’s formation, their magnetic stage presence and what it means to be a musician in the 21st century.

Smoky Mountains News: I’ve got to ask, what’s with the band name?

Carl Anderson: The band name just came from us shooting the breeze and we were talking about being in the middle of nowhere as being in East Jesus. We liked the ring of it and added the bound. We didn’t settle on it right away as we thought it was a bit ridiculous, but as our first show got closure we still liked the name so much we just went for it.

SMN: What’s the intent of the group?

CA: We just started out as a group of guys hanging out in a barn writing tunes and we’ve just taken off from there. Now we just want to create unique and exciting music, and push ourselves to make every album better than the last. We’ve all been playing instruments for a long time though. We’ve been in bands playing music for quite some time now. I don’t really know what music evokes in me. I think hanging out with friends and writing great tunes is just plain fun. 

SMN: What’s it like to be a musician in the 21st century?

CA: It’s great. With the Internet, promoting yourself through all the different facets it helps us reach so many more people than bands could have years ago without the backing of a major label. It also makes things a bit difficult as well, because there is so much great music out there, it’s hard to break through and rise to the top. 

SMN: What does it mean to be a North Country band?

CA: We love being a North Country band. The weather, the rural lifestyle, our hard working way of living, it inspires our music and how we write songs. And we really have the best fans. It’s awesome to see a room packed with our fans in the middle of a snowstorm. That’s commitment. As for that North Country sound, I think it’s open for interpretation. There’s a lot of great North Country bands, all with a unique style, creating this “North Country rock” style.

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