(Editor’s Note: The following story comes courtesy of the Palestine Herald Press.) PALESTINE — Former Nashville Star contestant and East Texas country artist Shy Blakeman will be making a stop in Palestine this week, performing at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Whistle Stop Saloon, located at 211 W. Main St. Blakeman’s performance will include songs from his third and most recent album, “Long Distance Man,” released in March of 2010. The album has a little bit of everything — the renegade spirit that launched Blakeman out of Kilgore, the outlaw country and classic country-rock he was weaned on as a child in Wyoming and the musical savvy of the Los Angeles roots-rock scene. “All the musical decisions led to such a sonically rich and interesting listening experience,” Blakeman notes, “but it all still feels within the realm of what country music is and used to be.” The songs Blakeman collected for the album form an autobiographical tale of his life in recent years. The band-tinged “Late Night Early Morning” and Celtic-folk flavored closer “Save A Little Room” channel feelings from his years playing night after night on the road. The swampy “Dragonfly” laments leaving romance behind while the swinging bounce of “Easy Goin’ Woman” celebrates carefree love with a breezy panache. And Blakeman brings it all back to the state he calls home — and salutes some of his favorite Texas singer-songwriters — from the late Rusty Wier’s infectious dancehall classic “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance” to his simmering full-throttle take on Willis Alan Ramsey’s “Satin Sheets.” “The album is so eclectic it’s really hard to try and define it by one genre,” Blakeman said. “And that’s the way it should be.” The disc hits the musical bullseye of Blakeman’s near lifelong artistic ambitions. “I’ve always known music is what I was meant to do,” he explains. “Nothing else has ever been an option. I attempted other career paths before I had the confidence to just go for it. But it was always in the back of my mind nagging at me.” When Blakeman did finally decide to go for it full on at age 22, the results underscored the fact that Blakeman had indeed met his destiny. He saved up $600 to cut his debut album, Downtown Women, which included duets with Texas legends Gary P. Nunn and Rusty Wier and his nearly a legend by now friend Miranda Lambert. The title song, which featured Nunn, spent over 40 weeks in the Top 40 of the Texas Music Chart. Then Blakeman hit the road in and around the Lone Star State like a warrior and hasn’t looked back. His next release, The Southern Roots Revival, scored a Top 10 Texas single (“Knockin’ On Heavens Door“) and three Top 20s on the chart (“Going Back To Texas,“ “Still Talkin’ ‘Bout You” and “A Million Miles Away“), and was nominated for Record of the Year at the Texas Music Awards. He later landed on the fourth season of “Nashville Star” in 2006. And during his first extended stay in Music City, Blakeman was befriended by the The Muzik Mafia of Big & Rich, Cowboy Troy, Kid Rock, Gretchen Wilson, John Anderson and Hank Williams Jr. And now with Long Distance Man, he finds his sweet spot and hits his music out of the park. As one can hear on the album, Blakeman’s journey to the artistic place he now finds himself is one with many musical and personal dimensions. When Shy was six his family moved to Northern California, where he keyed into his mother’s musical favorites like Motown, classic rock and R&B, and dug on his own into punk, reggae, ska, hip hop and grunge. By the time he was 14, the Blakemans landed in Kilgore, and he was further exposed to blues, Cajun and zydeco and later funk. At 15 he picked up the guitar and soon after the songs started coming from his muse. Along the way there he started a ska/punk band, a funk-rock group, and then during a stint living in Queens, New York at age 20, an acoustic punk duo that played the Big Apple clubs, including the famed ground zero for punk rock, CBGB’s. On returning to his Texas home, however, Blakeman finally embraced the music truest to
his soul. “I was 21 years old, and saying to myself: How long can I sing about teen angst?” he recalls. “I was getting out of that rebellious stage of wanting to be completely different from my Dad in every way. I was growing up a little, and I realized that country and blues and classic and Southern rock are what I love to do.” Fired by the young country boom in the Lone Star State, Blakeman started a print magazine called Country Music Texas. He got a tip on a hot young singer with the house band at the venerated Reo Palm Isle club in nearby Longview, and made fast friends with Lambert and her family, who furthered his initiation into the Texas music scene and encouraged his own artistic ambitions. “Texas is a big part of who I am,” Blakeman stresses. “It’s where I’ve lived longer than anywhere in my life, and I’m glad I lived in Texas in my most impressionable years when I was coming of age. What makes Texas music great is that it’s organic, it’s real, it’s just what it is. Texas was the launching pad for me, and what has allowed me to do this.”
Posted by: Sam Moore
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