You never really experience the warmth and honesty of Southern Hospitality until you encounter the great state of Alabama. Whether that be from visiting first hand like when last year we drove all the way across the state from Clarksdale in Mississippi to Chattanooga in Tennessee where we stopped off in Decatur or from speaking to natives like Walker Hayes or Lydia and Laura from The Secret Sisters. Last week we had our first introduction to another native of the Cotton State where we had some time getting to know Curb Records recording artist Tim Dugger.
Now residing in Nashville since 2012, Dugger grew up in Roanoke, in the east of Alabama where he grew up in a dry county and would have to travel across the border into Georgia to play shows. He built a sound and built a band as he would play college bars before making the jump eight years ago despite always commuting to music city from his time in high school to write, cut demo’s and play on Broadway. His big break came through one of his biggest loves, NASCAR racing, where playing the Daytona 500 fanzone he met the top man at Curb records, Mike Curb and I suppose the rest they say is history!
The impact of racing has been instrumental for his growth in exposure and also the size of his the crowds:
I was playing the bars for years and years, doing college shows playing four or five nights straight in a bar to maybe reach 600/700 people at the end of the week. I can do three months of those crowds playing at a NASCAR race. They are passionate same as country music fans, they will drive for days if they love your music and I’m lucky to make some of those fans mine! Then now it’s great to be having some music to bring out to them!
This growth has been reflective by demand, from beginning playing the races in Atlanta and Talladega initially to playing four or five circuits the following year and progressing to near enough the entire cycle. The importance of the sport welcoming him from the top down has meant a lot to him. From the drivers, the executives and the fans has been a big plus for Dugger with even after the extent of the pandemic kicked in he was able to play some of the virtual pre-race shows.
As he begins to release new music true to himself he was keen to express his gratitude to this as his foundation:
I didn’t want to go all Nascar but definitely lyrically there’s some hints and tipping the hat to racing. I wanted to make sure I had that a way to make sure the sport knew I appreciated it!
It is wonderfully portrayed through his new EP “Signs Of A Good Time” which is out now on Curb Records (Listen HERE) which is a six song recording which is brought to life by the work of Dan Huff protégé Brandon Hood as producer that really defines the “neo-traditional” ideology of paying respect to his truth and the sounds he was influenced by yet bringing it right up to date to be a dynamic force in the current sound!
We go by the ten percent, sometimes maybe fifteen or twenty where if I can keep the current kind of vibe and then when if you strip it all down it’s pretty traditional country. I feel you’ve gotta keep a little current so I’m glad that comes out of that.
In working with Hood, it was how he had finally found the guy that he had the natural connection with who shared his same vision, that spun from a co-write where they hit it off and kept in touch which grew to being two people that wanted to work together and build a musical relationship. On creating the EP that draws flavours of the creativity of Niko Moon intertwined with the instant impact and likeability of Alan Jackson classics, Dugger said that while he was pretty open with his opinions, he knew he had a guy in there to make it work! He knew he wanted elements of what he grew up listening to but Brandon was the guy to make it happen and the duo have met during lockdown and are already looking ahead to future endeavours.
This classic homage is in-rooted in his upbringing, he was raised on the classic sounds of: Merle Haggard, Vern Gosdin, Hank Williams and Alan Jackson which was what he was raised upon from his truck-driver father so it is no surprise how he feels he can get very traditional very easily which the growth of 90’s Country making a resurgence is purely people reliving what people grew up on when country was at it’s finest!
I myself am a passionate sports fan, whether that be for my beloved Tottenham Hotspur in soccer, the world renowned Dallas Cowboys in America’s version of football or my very own Essex Eagles in cricket (for American readers, imagine baseball but a lot longer with more rules and plenty of those dreaded sister kissers or draws to mess up statistics) but none of them come close to the importance of one sport in particular in Tim’s home state! Alabama has no professional teams in any sport and being from the eastern edge of the state close to the Georgia border, around an hour and a half from Atlanta he has always rooted for the Falcons (NFL) and Braves (MLB) but the lack of a pro team doesn’t affect the level of sporting passion in Alabama, as life is defined by a choice! You pick 2 words! “Roll Tide” or “War Eagle” and pledge your allegiance to one side of the state’s SEC universities: Alabama or Auburn? So naturally I had to know whether he rolled with the Crimson Tide or roared with the Tigers:
Oh man, It’s “Roll Tide” I didn’t expect that question! When I grew up Alabama were actually in a bad place with the football programme but really been able to enjoy the Saban era since the mid 2000’s when he showed up and it’s been great. One of my buddies is A.J. McCarron (Houston Texans quarterback who previously played for Cincinnati, Buffalo and Oakland) who took Alabama through 3 championships so it’s a passionate thing down in Alabama! You have be one way or the other, you gotta pick a side and it used to be very harsh. A very intense rivalry and still is but Alabama went through a lot with the tornado’s and I think that brought the state more together. It used to get pretty ruthless with Alabama and Auburn, it’s a great state and you have a lot of the Georgia boys in country music, it’s so big there too and I was born right on the line, where I’m from. If I wanted to go play a bar I had to go play Georgia, I was from a dry county with no alcohol or bars or anything. Alabama kinda gets forgotten about it’s music scene but no matter what other states bring to country music, we have Hank Williams? It’s a great place to be from and I’m proud to have that as part of my music and where I’m from!
The whole journey is fascinating but what exactly draws an Alabama boy to be perplexed with trying to bring his style of country music over 4000 miles across the Atlantic ocean and tell his story to me in south London? This is where the beauty of folk from that state comes to light! There isn’t a media friendly type this is what I’m expected to say answer, it’s just the raw honest truth where he talked of being able to get the best of both worlds!
I visited over there and I loved it! As much as I love to visit I would love to come and play as I know there are country music lovers over there! I enjoy learning from different cultures, I like drinking in the pubs and would love to bring stories from a small town in Alabama over to you. If you break it all down I love it, I love to visit so why not try and make music too?
He said how he needed to get more used to drinking pints rather than cans to try and keep up with us but playing shows over here is a firm part of his bucket list! He had said during our chat that musically it took a little longer to find what he wanted to say and sound like but “Signs Of A Good Time” is definitely a great destination to introduce Tim Dugger and this is a guy your firstly want to share a beer with and more importantly is the guy to soundtrack those perfect Friday nights once we are able to!