The following article and photos appeared in the Thursday April 4, 2019 edition of the Herald Chronicle. Used with permission.
Local musician on a mission to keep live music going in Franklin County
CONTRIBUTOR: Chris Isbell
Tennessee is a state that is world-renowned for its rich and varied musical history and culture. From the early years of the Grand Ole Opery in Nashville to the birthplace of rock and roll in Memphis, the Volunteer state has produced legions of talented musicians. And though it isn’t as famous as Nashville when it comes to musical talent, Franklin County has produced its share of gifted and passionate musicians.
Franklin County native Ky Brazelton is one such musician. And while he’s the frontman and founder of a successful and popular rock and roll band, it’s all the little things he does behind the scenes that set him apart from the many musicians that call our county home.
Joshua Ky Brazelton, age 41, first picked up a battered old acoustic guitar at the tender age of 6. It took him a few years for his hands to grow large enough to really play the big acoustic guitar, however, but his tenaciousness ensured that he stuck with it. He persevered, and began to really make make music at age 13- with a little help from his friends and family.
“Tommy Smith showed me how to play a couple of tunes on his big-bodied acoustic Hummingbird guitar and the rest was history,” Brazelton said. Smith later went on to “friend” the guitar to Brazelton, and soon after his mother began to take note that this “guitar thing” wasn’t just a passing phase or fad. “My mom saw that I was passionate about playing and she went out and bought me my first Alvarez acoustic guitar, and I still have that guitar today,” Brazelton said. Brazelton also learned from family members Brian Baggett and Lloyd Rogers, and some close friends.
Supportive parents can make all the difference when it comes to their children’s initial interest in learning to play a musical instrument. Fortunately for Brazelton, his parents were behind him from the start.
“My dad and mom, Ray and Debbie Keith, were very supportive when they saw that I was serious about learning the guitar,” Brazelton said.
Many musicians use acoustic guitars as songwriting tools, as the acoustic variety of instruments require no electricity or separate guitar amplifier to be clearly heard. A guitarist can just pick up a guitar and start playing. Things tend to get loud, however, when playing with a band, and for this reason many guitarists use electric guitars and powered amplifiers when performing at a live event.
Brazelton, however, prefers the sound and feel of the acoustic guitar for both quiet songwriting sessions and also when he’s performing with the group he founded, The Stagger Moon Band. “I love the sound of the electric guitar, but I’ve always been drawn to the deep low end tones of the acoustic,” Brazelton said.
During his travels performing at hundreds of gigs throughout the area, Brazelton developed an insider’s eye view of the live music scene in Franklin County and throughout Tennessee. “I developed working relationships with the many local live music venue owners, and this knowledge came in handy later on when an idea became reality,” said Brazelton.
That idea came together with some valuable advice from his friends Ricky Tipps, David Watson, and Clark McCain.
“A few years ago I got a call from Ricky Tipps at WCDT AM Radio in Winchester,” Brazelton said. He wanted to know what we could do to engage our local community with all the amazing artists and songwriters who live in the area.” After making some calls and talking with a few of his contacts that he’d met during his travels with his band, Brazelton came up with the S.L.I.M. (Support Local Independent Music) project.
Brazelton and Tipps then created a weekly Writer’s Night event at Arrezzo’s, which was off the Square in Downtown Winchester. “There are so many incredibly talented songwriters in our area who aren’t performing at live venues,” said Brazelton. We wanted to give all these individuals, solo artists, and even full bands a familiar and friendly venue to showcase their talent with all the live music fans in our area.”
The Writer’s Night was an overwhelming success, and the performances were recorded and played on a weekly radio show on WCDT.
“After the radio show debuted I started getting calls from artists asking about Franklin County’s local venues, and who they should call to schedule their own live shows with our live music venue owners,” Brazelton said. This is when my earlier S.L.I.M. idea became a reality.”
S.L.I.M. became a way for me to help local musicians find a place to play their music by connecting them with the right business owners and live music venues. What’s good for the musician is also good for the business owners, and vice versa. Everybody wins, and the local community benefits by having more variety available to them when going out and enjoying the shows.”
An important detail to mention regarding Brazelton’s work in connecting musicians with local business owners is the fact that he does all of this absolutely free of charge.
“It’s just a phone call or ten for me, and I’m happy to be a part of keeping live music going in my community,” Brazelton said.
Though Brazelton isn’t seeking accolades for his time spent helping musicians connect with local business owners, his efforts have not gone unnoticed. Brazelton was recently nominated and named as a “People of Winchester”by the Mayor’s Office in Winchester.
“I’m grateful, and I want to thank Yvonne Stewart and the City of Winchester for the nomination,” Brazelton said.
Brazelton has worked with the City of Winchester on multiple occasions to help book local musicians with city events. Some of these include the Winchester Wriggle Art and Music Crawl, the Rising Bud Redbud Music Fest, and the Franklin County Fair, all of which are popular annual events.
“I love this area as a whole,” Brazelton said. It’s just wholesome and home. From the people at the local parts store where they know your name, to the friendly faces at the old country store asking how your folks are. The people here make me love this community.”
In addition to his time spent helping musicians and businesses connect in an effort to keep live music going in Franklin County, Brazelton’s band, The Stagger Moon Band, has also played numerous shows throughout the area where all proceeds were donated to charitable causes. Some of these include benefit shows for local veterans and their families.
A near lifelong resident of Franklin County, Brazelton is a graduate of Franklin County High School’s Class of 1996. While attending Motlow State Community College with a focus on music, Brazelton continued his work framing houses and learning the carpentry and construction trades. “I worked my way up during my time in working in construction and framing houses,” Brazelton said.
The years of carpentry work paid off, as Brazelton now works as a Project Manager for Twin Creeks Properties. While he stays busy with his work as a Project Manager and his efforts connecting musicians with area venue owners, Brazelton still finds time to perform with his band.
The Stagger Moon Band is made up of Stevie Counts on drums, Ken Huddleston on lead guitar, Clark McCain on bass guitar, and Brazelton leads the way as lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist. Local guitarist and music instructor John Cook has also performed with the band on occasion.
When he isn’t playing the guitar or engaged in songwriting, Brazelton enjoys spending time with his wife of 8 years, Samantha Amacher Brazelton. “We met through mutual friends, and it was love at first sight,” Brazelton said. She has a heart of gold.”
The Stagger Moon Band has released two albums, and both are available on all streaming apps including Spotify and YouTube. The albums can also be purchased through Google Play, iTunes, and Amazon.
Musicians who are looking for a venue are invited to check out S.L.I.M. on Facebook.