Now it’s me who owns the night: Blackouts, Driftwood to play Water’n Hole
In an effort to bust out of her Virginia hometown and head for the bright lights of Nashville, rising singer-songwriter Karly Driftwood put down her guitar and reached for the stripper pole — eventually gathering up enough dollar bills to fill the gas tank, the hood of the car soon aimed for Music City.
Known for her dark, snarky, yet honest melodic tales, Driftwood is a force of nature, this “hell or high water” presence that is steadily moving up the ranks. It was an “all or nothing” attitude of passion and persistence akin to emerging East Tennessee psychobilly group Humps & The Blackouts.
Well-regarded for its mix of honky-tonk, bluegrass and alt-country stylings, the Blackouts are a band of musical pirates roaming the high peaks and low valleys of Southern Appalachia and beyond.
Both Driftwood and the Blackouts represent this latest, “devil-may-care” chapter of the sacred “three chords and the truth” that resides at the foundation of country music in the 21st century.
Humps & The Blackouts.
Humps & The Blackouts
Smoky Mountain News: Y’all are a wild-n-out band. Where does that energy and passion come from?
Matt Humphries: I get the energy from the music itself. I truly love it. I love making music with friends. The sound and feel of it. The better it feels, the more energy it feeds me.
Offstage? I’m a fairly reserved person. So, performing onstage is my time to “wild out.” The crowd sees that I’m truly enjoying myself and having the time of my life, and that energy spills out into them. The more fun they have, the more I want to give ‘em.
It’s also a little therapeutic. Playing music is not my only job. So, all the day-to-day “BS” just fades away when it’s show time. When I sing with the band, it’s the same feeling when you’ve got the music cranked in your car, windows up and your singing and dancing in your seat like nobody’s watching — I just let it all out.
SMN: Country music is at the core of the Blackouts. What does that sound provoke within your heart and soul?
MH: Country music is just in my blood. I grew up with it. The same songs I loved when I was 3 [years old], I still love now. While I like and listen to a lot of different styles, nothing feels more like home.
It’s so universal. The stories in the songs, the people who write them, and the events that inspired them — [it] didn’t come from one type of person.
No matter where you’re from or what you’ve been through, there’s a country song for that. That’s where the saying “three chords and the truth” came from. They’re songs about the ups and downs of life. Love, sorrow, anger and joy. Things we all deal with, and from any walk of life, can relate to.
To me, country music is a bowl of mama’s banana pudding, with a bottle of Jack [Daniel’s] to wash it down.
Smoky Mountain News: You became a stripper to save money to leave your hometown and head to Nashville. What did you take away from that experience and apply to your musical career?
Karly Driftwood: Well, there’s a quote “it takes money to make money,” which I think is completely true. Money also buys time to write songs and make new material. Without dancing, I don’t know if I could have afforded to move to Nashville or record an album.
I’m not on a label yet, so I have to finance/have time for my recordings, promotion, booking, gas money, hotel rooms, album art, mixing, mastering, posters, videography, merchandise, etcetera, by myself.
I think I was surprised by how many people have paid their way into the [music] industry, and how many people have faked a middle-income story to seem relevant to the average person.
SMN: Why country music? What makes that genre stick out more than other styles of music?
KD: To be honest, I didn’t listen to a lot of country growing up. I was an emo kid in the 2000s. But, as I got older, I started getting into country because I started noticing a lot of emo vibes in it, believe it or not.
I’m from Mechanicsville, Virginia, so country music also gives me a nostalgic feeling. A lot of people assume country music is boring and slow. But, in reality, it can be very badass and in your face like rock-n-roll.
SMN: What do you see your role as a singer-songwriter, in terms of what you want to say and how you want to say it?
KD: I think my role of a songwriter is to make people feel inspired to be themselves and just get out there and chase their dreams. There’s a lot of distraction, but I think we all go through similar problems, and I would like people to know that I have probably gone through the same thing — I hope my music can be a sort of comfort for them.
Want to go?
The Water’n Hole Bar & Grill in Waynesville will host two highly-anticipated upcoming shows:
• The Humps & The Blackouts “Halloween Extravaganza” will be held at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30. There will also be a costume contest, drinks specials, and more.
• Singer-songwriter Karly Driftwood hits the stage at 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6.
Both shows are free and open to the public. Ages 21 and older. 828.456.4750 or facebook.com/waternhole.bar.