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Southern Comfort

Opening act Joe Nichols connects with his audience at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox


June 4, 2014

It would be inaccurate to describe myself as a country boy. Born and raised in upstate New York, I had little exposure to country music. My parents listened to Sinatra and Streisand, and my years in Hebrew school did not prepare me for the likes of Merle Haggard or Dolly Parton, so I was a little late to the tailgate party. When I began touring the United States, with nothing but an eight-track to propel me down the dusty back roads of Texas, I turned to the radio. And much to my surprise, my love of the genre was born. Haggard’s “Down every Road” staved off any thoughts of loneliness, as I explored our beautiful nation, and Hank Williams’ “Lost Highway” reminded me that rather than focusing on the destination, it’s often the journey that makes the trip worthwhile. Reluctant to let my “sophisticated” pals in southern California (where I spent many years) chide me for embracing my inner redneck, I kept it to myself until resettling here in Sullivan County, where redneck is a badge of honor.