ORLANDO – Asked if there’s a connection between the blues and whiskey, Scott H. Biram – the blues and country singer of songs like “Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue” – says there’s one thing people need to know.
“I don’t drink whiskey anymore,” the resident of Austin, Texas, told Freeline Media. “I wrote a lot of songs about whiskey, and I still have one I need to record — and I probably will record it — but I feel like I‘ve paid my dues drinking it, anyway. All it does is get me in trouble.”
Whiskey, though, can definitely be a popular theme in blues songs, he added.
“I don’t know if it’s just whiskey, or drinking in general,” Biram said. “That has to do with the blues. I’ve listened to a lot of stuff over the years, and there’s a lot of songs about gin in particular when it comes to blues.”
Biram, the popular singer, songwriter and recording artist – his latest CD is Bad Ingredients, his fourth full-length album for Bloodshot Records – is coming to Orlando for an upcoming show with Lydia Loveless at The Social on Saturday, Feb. 4. The show begins at 9 p.m., and tickets for the club at 54 N. Orange Ave. in downtown Orlando are $10.
Biram, who sings “I Want My Mojo Back” on Bad Ingredients, said he definitely plans to sing the blues – his brand of the blues.
“I think the blues is like the original punk rock,” he said. “It’s an avenue for people to cry out, and voice their concerns.”
In some ways, he said, it’s also a universal language.
“The great thing about the blues is it’s not just all one thing,” he said. “People have been singing blues songs about their own personal sorrows and feelings, and usually it’s something they can relate to, like love problems and bad luck. Then there’s the whole part where they can say things in general about problems with society. It just speaks to me. Over the years, I’ve played a lot of different kinds of music, but I relate to the blues more than anything.”
His influences include country music, which he said evolved from the blues. His early influences included country music giants Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings.
“They really made an impact on me,” he said. “But I think country came from the blues, so once again it’s going back to the blues. I grew up in the country, and I heard a lot of that stuff growing up and I just enjoy it.”
He was born in Prairie Lee, Texas, a small town about an hour from Austin. It was so small, he recalled, that “where I went to a school, it was kindergarten through 9th grade – all in one building.”
Still, his influences didn’t end there.
“My family traveled a lot when I was a kid, so I got to see the world, so I wasn’t just a country hick — even though I am a hick,” Biram said.
He became interested in music at an early age.
“I have some aunts and uncles who were in a band when I was a kid, and my dad played saxophone,” he said. “I remember the first record I ever saw, my dad buying it when I was just three years old, a Lightnin’ Hopkins record. I can still see the cover in my head and everything.”
In fact, Biram channels his early love for the blues and Lightnin’ Hopkins into a song on his new CD, “Born in Jail.”
“High school was when I started learning guitar, and when I was 14, that’s when I got into punk rock and heavy metal,” he said. “Then I kind of rediscovered bluegrass music when I was 19, and started getting into more folk and bluesy things, and I joined some bluegrass bands and started touring with them. I’ve been working on it for years and years and years. I’m still doing it.” The early days, he added, were not easy.
“Back before I had booking agents and managers and record labels, I started calling clubs,” he said. “I was calling everybody. It was a real pain. I had to make these press kits that looked kind of fancy, and they had copies of any kind of write up I ever had, and I tried to make it look professional. I kept at it and kept at it and kept playing. Every show I had a chance to take, I’d take it. I figured I can either go to the bar and sit at the bar and pay for my drink and watch somebody else play, or be the one to play and I’m the guest of honor.”
Today, he admits, it’s a brand new world, as social media sites, YouTube videos, and music downloads allow any young musician to market their music – and not just in their own backyard, but to an international audience.
“I haven’t really figured it all out,” he said. “I haven’t figured out what I think about it yet. I’m one of those people who have music on my computer and I’m all over Facebook. I think it’s easier to paint yourself in the wrong corner and say the wrong things on the Internet, and it makes it easier to get the word out about your music now. People just starting out now have people in Spain and Russia who already know their music because they’ve heard it over the Internet. Their music just falls in your lap these days. You don’t even have to go out to find it. Kids have it made now.”
Biram noted that he’s performed in Orlando numerous times, and always had enjoyed the audiences here.
“It’s pretty good,” he said. “I’ve always had good shows at The Social. Last time I played at some big weird theater, I was by myself, and I had a bunch of hoodies stolen. I got off the stage and a bunch of my T-shirts were stolen. But I’ve always had a great time in Orlando. The people are good there. In general, everywhere I go, the audiences are pretty good.”
And he’s promising to play them some real blues in the City Beautiful – and not the sanitized version.
“I play traditional blues, mostly,” he said. “These days, there’s a lot of people who are blues fans and blues musicians, basically, who play this watered-down white version of the blues. And it kind of makes me sick.”
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