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Sammy Kershaw at Oxford Performing Arts Center
February 8, 2019 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm$29
The music business is an ever-changing model, and Sammy Kershaw has seen it all. From consolidations with radio and record companies to the digital era that we are now in, he admits that he wondered if there was still a place for his Pure Country sound. “I don’t know if the fire ever left,” he says, “but I had some doubts for a while if people still wanted to hear my music, or if radio would still play my music anymore.”
Then, one day, it all became as clear to Sammy as the first time he had ever heard George Jones or Mel Street sing. “One Saturday morning, I’m sitting on my bus listening to the radio, and this old Johnny Paycheck song comes on called “Old Violin.” That’s how I felt–like an old violin, fixin’ to be put away and never played again.”
Hearing that song was a surreal moment for Sammy. “Then,” he recalls, “the last line in the song came on, and it said “We’ll give our all to music, and we’ll give our life.” That took me back to when I was twelve years old, and in a bar room singing my first Country song, which was “Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone.” It took me back to that time in my life, and that line changed my mind set in an instant.” It wasn‟t about the charts or the record label—it was about the creative spark. “I thought to myself, radio might not ever play me again, and people might not want to hear me, but I need to do some new music—for me.”
So, Sammy returns to the fold with his first album in four years, Better Than I Used To Be. Longtime fans will find the music is very comparable to his string of hits that started in 1991 with “Cadillac Style.” One similarity between the classics and the new album is the songs, which are all about real life. “I started when I was twelve years old in the honky-tonks and bar rooms. I grew up early. My dad died when I was eleven, and I was the oldest of four kids. I didn‟t really have a childhood.” Those experiences helped to shape his sound, and helped him relate to the lyrics he was singing about.