Ah, yes, the capitals of American country music – Austin, Texas; Branson, Missouri; Bristol, Tennessee; Hamilton, New York.
OK, maybe that’s a stretch. But while Hamilton may not be the home of country music, it is the home base of one of country music’s rising stars.
Hamilton’s favorite son, Blaine Holcomb, now a Nashville resident, is about to release the first single off his second recording, “Over A Beer.” The full 6-song EP will be released on October 1. The title track comes out Friday on all streaming services.
After a childhood spent on athletic fields, the 2010 Hamilton High School grad traded his cleats for a pair of cowboy boots. During his sophomore year at St. Lawrence University he entered a country music talent contest called The Texaco Country Showdown sponsored by Big Frog 104. His win at the regional level caught the attention of well-known CNY country cover band, The Fulton Chain Gang, which led to a three-year stint playing throughout New York state. His success in the country music realm convinced him to take a major leap of faith: a move to Nashville in February 2015.
There are few things more daunting to a musician than to relocate to a city where the busboys at every restaurant are better players than any you’ve heard.
“It was intimidating at first,” admits Holcomb, “but once I got here and started meeting people and playing some gigs I started to feel more comfortable.”
While talent is the deciding factor in making it in Nashville, a bit of luck doesn’t hurt. Shortly after his arrival, Blaine decided to audition for a gig at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, a historic bar/restaurant just steps from the iconic Ryman Auditorium. As luck would have it the house band was in need of a lead singer and just like that Holcomb had a regular gig in Music City.
And he hasn’t slowed down in the six years since, currently holding residences at Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row and The Valentine.
After writing just two of the songs on his debut album, Holcomb co-wrote five of the six songs on “Over A Beer,” which was produced by well-known songwriter/producer Jay Brunswick and features some of the top studio musicians in Nashville.
Although raised the traditional sounds of Merle Haggard, George Jones, Keith Whitley, and Daryle Singletary, on “Over A Beer those influences have morphed into a more modern country style.
“My music is like a blend of ‘90s country with a modern, contemporary production. By that I mean that it’s still country but it has a modern fresh sound,” explains Holcomb. “I love songwriting and I love songs that tell a story.
“After all, that’s what country music is.”
You can follow Blaine on Instagram, Facebook, Spotify, and Apple Music to stay up to date with all music releases, or visit his website www.blaineholcomb.com.
Mark Sisti is an experienced performer who writes about local music for the Observer-Dispatch. Email him at [email protected]