A new blog’s life expectancy is sadly short; it begins with earnest intentions to strike a bold path of self-expression, and usually ends with a death knell of ennui. They die by the thousands each week. But even in this age of tweets, there are old-fashioned blogs worth seeking out—especially local ones. Here are just a few local blogs to bookmark, if you haven’t already.
A Fifty Cent Lighter and a Whiskey Buzz
Blogger: Nelson Gullett, 32
Occupation: DJ at WDVX/retail sales associate
Blog Started: July 2008
“Given their name (and it is a great name), you’d be forgiven for thinking Girl Haggard was an all girl Merle Haggard cover band. While they do draw on some of the same themes you’d find in Merle’s music, Girl Haggard is something else entirely. The band features Nashville vocalist Mandy Allan singing in front of a trio of musicians from Providence, RI in a punk and country style that draws easy comparisons to The Knitters or Those Darlins. If you really want to know where this band is coming from, just look at song titles like ‘Providence and Bourbon,’ ‘Hungover/Pissed Off,’ ‘Thinkin’ About Drinkin’,’ and the tender duet featured here, ‘Drunk, Broke, and In Love (The Hank Shuffle).’”
Why did you decide to create Fifty Cent Lighter?
I started the blog because I needed some sort of creative outlet. I have a master’s degree in communications and had spent most of the early part of the decade working for an NPR station in Morehead, Ky., where I produced a daily news magazine program (like a locally focused All Things Considered), trained students in reporting and news writing, and hosted an Americana music show four nights a week. When I moved to Knoxville, I took a retail job working 40 hours a week and just needed something else to keep me going. My wife and I started making mix CDs for friends to help introduce them to the music we liked. As part of that, I would always write “liner notes” that described each artist and song on the discs. Once the notes kept getting more and more elaborate, my wife suggested that I start a blog. So I did.
How would you describe its “mission”?
If there is a mission, I guess it’s simply to have fun and share music I love with others. I also want to help the artists I cover gain fans and gain exposure. In every post I write, I always provide a direct link to a place where readers can purchase the music I write about. If someone buys a CD or goes to a show to see an artist I’ve covered, then I feel as though I’ve done my job.
How much of your time do you devote to it?
I don’t think I can put an exact number to it to say I work “X” amount of hours a week. I’ll just say that it takes up a good deal of my free time. I carry a notebook with me nearly every where I go so I can take notes and sketch out posts during breaks at work or while sitting in a restaurant. I’ve also been known to go to the computer after my wife and daughter are asleep so I can stay up writing. Between listening to the music and writing the reviews, the longer posts I write probably take a good three to five hours apiece. Others come a little easier.
Have you gotten any interesting feedback?
I got interviewed for an online magazine called the Alternate Root back when I was first getting started, and another website recently named my site the fourth-best blog for people who love folk music. I’ve also received a lot of positive feedback from readers and fellow bloggers over the years. My favorite comments, though, come from the artists themselves. I think I was one of the first blogs to write about Van Eaton’s Blood on the Ground CD when it first came out. Van later told me that a radio station in Europe (Denmark maybe?) read about his record on my site and started playing his music. I can’t tell you how cool it was to hear that.
Which post has gotten the biggest reaction?
I do a series of posts every year where I handicap the Americana Music Awards and share music from the nominated artists. That, and the annual “best of” posts at the end of the year always get a decent reaction.
Do you have any goals for the blog beyond just writing it?
Right now that’s it, although I’d eventually like to grow my readership and find a way to be compensated for my writing. I’d also like to do more interviews and maybe a few exclusive live recordings. Overall, though, I’m pretty happy with where things stand right now.