Every now and then someone will offer you a drink and tell you "It's the real stuff" -- and it is. That's what listening to singer-songwriter Brandon Fulson feels like. His songs are raw and real. They're about the small towns and rural areas where he grew up and still lives. They're not some product or "manufactured twang" created in Nashville. That Appalachian accent? There's nothing put-on about it.
Fulson honed his skills playing gut bucket bars and beer halls in small towns along the East Tennessee and Kentucky border. It was an atmosphere where the band better deliver the songs or know how to fight. There was an element of danger when Brandon began slipping in a few orignal numbers - especially when some songs were about people in the crowd and their unsavory habits.
Growing up in the neighboring towns of Cumberland Gap, Tenn, and Middlesboro, Ky., Fulson's first reputation was as a local troublemaker, a kid who didn't exactly follow the path most people expected him to. He loved the classic country of Hank Williams, the swagger of Waylon Jennings and his fellow outlaws, and no holds barred Southern rock, whether it came from Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers or, later, Drive-By Truckers. But his ears were always open to a good song wherever it came from.
A little less than a decade ago, Fulson became part the lively music scene in Knoxville, Tenn., enlisting some of the town's ace players for his recordings and live performances. He's made regular appearances on live radio programs on radio station WDVX, opened for musical heroes and headlined festivals.
Fulson's most recent album was recorded live at the Butcher's Pub in Pineville, Ky., in front of a raucous crowd ready for a good time. The 24-song performance is filled with Fulson-written favorites, including "Middlesborough 1974," "Manufactured Twang" and "Zombie Town," along with his cover of Marilyn Manson's "The Dope Show," which Fulson's tweaked just slightly to make feel at home in Appalachia.
If you want to know what this part of the world really feels like, give Brandon Fulson a listen.