Music’s like a hole with a treasure chest at the bottom: Some spend their whole life looking for it, and others just stumble in by mistake. Count Bleu Edmondson among the latter.
The Texas country rocker got his first guitar at 21, and he spent the next year learning how to play and writing some songs. He assembled his 10 favorites and sent a demo to Dixie Chicks producer Lloyd Maines, because Edmondson remembered the name from the back of a bunch of albums he liked. He just figured that’s how it was done.
Maines saw Edmondson’s raw talent, and agreed to produce his 2001 debut, “Southland.” The disc featured the crap-kicking country track “$50 Dollars and a Flask of Crown,” which became a regional hit.
“I didn’t really think of a music career as a viable option. It was just a hobby I kind of became fascinated with,” Edmondson said. “I made that first record because I thought it was a fun thing to do, a creative outlet.”
He returned to Maines for 2002’s “The Band Plays On,” and hit the road with a vengeance, not letting up for more than four years. The effort was less a plan than Edmondson just not knowing what else to do.
“I really didn’t have anything to say after the second record ” anything important. I could’ve churned out another album, and just toured on that, but we were so busy on the road, and I didn’t really have anything to say, so we kept hustling down the road,” he said. “We were still playing like crazy and still doing well and having good crowds. I just wasn’t expanding a whole lot. It kind of plateaued.”
The next few years grew increasingly difficult for Edmondson, as his lack of output began to wear on him. Soon, he was burned out playing the same songs over and over again. These issues, along with some personal trials, are reflected in 2007’s appropriately titled “Lost Boy.”
“You just start questioning yourself when you’re not really living up to the potential you have, whether that’s just in your head or whether it’s true,” he said.
HOPING FOR REDEMPTION
A broad step forward, “Lost Boy” is much more of a rock album whose title and tracks echo Edmondson’s own tumult. Edmondson strikes a chord similar to Bruce Springsteen, with songs featuring characters pushed to the edge, but still looking and hoping for redemption.
It runs from the drug addict contemplating ending it all in “Finger on the Trigger,” and the ballad “Last Last Time,” about trying to exorcise a lingering memory, to his anthemic ode to new starts, “Resurrection,” and “Last Call We All Fall Down,” where he sings, “Afraid to admit, here in the bar / We’re pieces of shit, pretend we aren’t what we are / It’s sad, tonight I’ve got it bad.”
“My intention was to write that kind of lost, on-the-brink kind of song or vibe, to give it that feel, but know that somewhere it gets better,” Edmonson said. “You get right up to the edge of the cliff, but you don’t jump and you don’t go over because there’s joy, potential, love and happiness just around the corner. That sense of hope in the middle of the darkness is kind of what I wanted.”
“Lost Boy” helped rescue his flagging career, re-energized his road show and elicited a renewed interest among country fans. Eager not to repeat the mistake of letting half a decade pass between albums, Edmondson’s already got a dozen tracks ready for his next record, the product of a long summer spent writing. He plans to enter the studio in February for a spring or summer release.
Meanwhile, the singer/songwriter keeps focusing on high-energy live performances that run from blues and country to rock, spanning the gamut of his influences and following in the steps of The Boss, with a decidedly Texas twist.
“If I could get one-tenth of not only the success, but the joy he’s brought to me and millions of others through live shows and songwriting, then I’ve succeeded,” he said. “I want to make it a night that for at least two to three hours people forget about life for a while, and say ‘Fuck it, we’re here, let’s drink a beer and shake our asses and put a smile on our face and flirt with pretty women.'”
Bleu Edmondson performs at 10 p.m. Friday at Wormy Dog Saloon, 311 E. Sheridan in Bricktown. “Chris Parker