The Quintessential Bubba

2013-7

pickin’ & grinnin’ By Pam Creech • Photography by Allison Potter the quintessential bubba Chris Bellamy could be your next-door neighbor. He wears camouflage T-shirts. He has a chocolate Labrador named Skipper. He has a fishing boat trailered in his front yard. He also has a recording studio inside his house. Bellamy’s studio contains five acoustic guitars, each made from different types of wood, several microphones and photographs of Bellamy’s hunting and fishing excur-sions. However, the studio’s most unique feature is an analog mixer. “It keeps you honest,” Bellamy says. While most artists prefer to use digital based mixers that make it easy to edit their work and hide mistakes, Bellamy enjoys his old-school recording equipment. “You have to have a good perfor-mance, and that’s what a really good-sounding record is all about,” he says. “I’ve played with Emmylou Harris. I’ve played with Jimmy Buffet,” he says. But Bellamy had his first perfor-mance as a fourth-grader. “We had to “I’d rather play for ten people that listen than 10,000 that don’t,” Bellamy says. memorize poetry, and I just could not remember it, so I started playing chords with it. Then, it had a tune to it,” he says. “But I was horrified to play in front of the class.” Nevertheless, Bellamy’s elementary-school performance was a success — his teacher was amazed. “She called my Mama, and she told her that I had a gift and she should encourage it,” he says. Bellamy began booking gigs shortly after his classroom debut. “I had my first TV appearance when I was 14,” he says, reminiscing about his appearances on the Homer Briarhopper Show. “I was on the show a lot.” Bellamy actually started playing the guitar at age 7, with the help and encouragement of his family. “My Daddy was a guitar player. He was certainly an influ-ence,” Bellamy says. “My Daddy told me ‘If you ever want to amount to anything in the music industry, you need to be the man out front singing.’” Bellamy has other relatives in the music business as well. The Bellamy Brothers, best known for their song “You Ain’t Just Whislin’ Dixie,” are his second cousins. “They created that male duo, country harmony thing,” Bellamy says. “They were pre-Brooks & Dunn.” Although Bellamy has been a professional musician since those teenage years, each album he releases is expressive and unique. “Bubbafied,” his ninth album, is no exception. 76 WBM july 2013 “‘Bubbafied’ is different in the fact that it’s a story of my life, so to speak,” Bellamy says. “The way we define Bubba is just a good ol’ boy. A bubba is a guy who’ll stop on the side of the road and help you when you’re broke down.” In “The Story of a Bubba,” one of “Bubbafied’s” bonus tracks, Bellamy discusses what it means to be Bubbafied. With folksy picking and a Southern drawl, Bellamy says, “Bubba lives in the heart and soul of most every southern male. … Bubba might be a little overweight and he might not use real good English, but you know what he means when he talks to you.” However, not every track pertains to the Bubba theme. For decades, Bellamy and his guitars wintered in the Florida Keys. “The Ballad of John Ashley” tells the story of an infamous bank robber and bootlegger who lived in the Everglades in the 1910s and early 1920s. Bellamy’s steady guitar rhythms and storytelling lyrics bring the legend of Ashley, a criminal who lived nearly a century ago, to life. Bellamy’s live performances do not disappoint. At his “Bubbafied” CD release party at The Pub at Sweet & Savory in May, Bellamy sat on a patio under a tree decorated with small, white lights as audience members tapped their feet and sipped their beverages, enjoying his intricate picking and folksy vocals. But Bellamy doesn’t let his talent get to his head. He nodded at friends as they arrived, and hugged them or shook their hands in between songs — it’s clear that Bellamy appreciates each person who listens to his music. “I’d rather play for ten people that listen than 10,000 that don’t,” Bellamy says. Copies of “Bubbafied” can be purchased at The Fisherman’s Wife or online at www.chrisbellamy.com


2013-7
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