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I come from a town divided. Texarkana, Texas, USA. I barely made it into our fine Republic. The town is positioned, geographically, in the northeastern corner of the state, with half of the city proper hanging over into Texas and the other half juttin' over into Arkansas. "Texarkana is Twice as Nice!" is what the water tower says. Stateline Avenue splits the municipality right down the middle and if you follow it all the way downtown you'll run smack into the city post office that sits right atop the bi-state dissection. There's a sign there to prove it. It's a scarecrow post type situation with two metal objects hanging out to either side of it, one in the shape of Texas and one in the shape of Arkansas. At the foot of the sign there is a white line painted on the concrete. It's presumed to be a photographic opportunity. You can stand there with one foot on one side of the line and one foot on the other and be in two states at the same time. I've stood right there, with my feet on either side of the divide, and you know what? I couldn't feel a thing.

I moved from Texas to Georgia a few years ago. Atlanta, GA, to be exact. When I first got there, I landed in a pretty rough part of town called, Atlanta. That's a joke you can make if you live in Atlanta. We get to make that joke. You cannot. Until you have a permanent address with a water bill to prove it. The specific part of Atlanta I landed in is called, Cabbagetown. It's a quaint mill town with shotgun houses all gridded in near proximity to the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill. The company that built the mill originally officed out of the former Atlanta Slave Market House, which it soon outgrew. In the early 1880's it began construction on a complex of buildings east of downtown on the south side of the Georgia Railroad line. The owners of the newly constructed mill would drive trucks up into the Appalachian mountains and load them down with folks looking for work; and these folks, mostly poor Scots-Irish, settled in those gridded shotgun houses that had been erected just for them. Over the past decade, the mill has been converted into a planned socioeconomically diversified residential space that just so happened to be the first thing to come up on the internet machine when my wife, Toni, typed in, "Atlanta loft apartments". And that's how our Georgia adventure began and how we wound up living in Cabbagetown in the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill.

A year or so after arriving in Cabbagetown, I began work on my first album as a soloartist entitled, Neon Steeple. I am a fragile human and was nervous that this, the working on my first album as a solo-artist, might be a terrible idea. Because, well, this time, it would be all my fault. The act of blame displacement is humanity at its most adept. (i.e. Adam, the first man [addressing God], "Um. But. She gave me the fruit!") In a band, there is the company of compatriots to spread the blame fairly amongst. I chose to combat the negative automatic thoughts associated with this type of individual endeavor with positive cognitive rebuttals. Such as "This feeling is uncomfortable, but I can do this." And, "I'm a capable person who can do many things without the help of others." And, "You can do it!" I tried not to let myself worry about anything more than just getting my insides, outside.

At that time, I was thinking a lot about roots, and home, and place, and belonging. Which makes sense, seeing as I had never lived anywhere outside of the Lone Star State of Texas. The lyrics read like pop colloquial Southern Gospel and the music sounded like bluegrass electronic dance music. Growing up in East Texas, country and western, and bluegrass, and southern gospel were just things in the air, as unavoidable as sweat tea. And too, coming of age in the 80's, spending superabundant amounts of time in front of the television playing Atari and Nintendo with all those 8-bit beepsand-blips, well, it's no wonder that if I were gonna try to get the soul of who I was as a person out into the open, the banjo and fiddle would be sittin' right up next to the 808 kick drum. "Folktronica," was the proper name for it if we were to have to name a thing as slippery as music. It was front porch hand and foot music with ones and zeros. And there I was, in a new locale called Cabbagetown, trying to find my roots. And you know what? Turns out, that street I landed on, the one with the mill, yeah, it's where country music was born. For real. True story! As I said, I didn't know it at the time, but remember all those mill workers that were fetched down from the Appalachians? Well, they brought their music with them, banjos and fiddles in tow. Cabbagetown was country before country was country. Look it up on the internet machine. Nashville could've been Atlanta.

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