By JULIA ROBERTS GOAD
As a boy growing up in the rugged hills of Mingo County, Jeep White remembers listening to his grandfather play banjo and tell tales of his uncle, Devil Anse Hatfield. His grandfather’s stories and his music took root, creating a musician who is a story teller.
Jeep’s first solo release, “Low Country,” is a return to his roots, “a self produced labor of love. I consider it a lifetime achievement,” he said.
Jeep is the son of Forse and Irma Baisden, formerly of Red Jacket.
“I grew up on Beech Creek at my grandfather, Allen Hatfield’s home place,” Jeep said. “I spent most of my early childhood on the front porch of his country store, listening to him play his banjo and tell stories of the Hatfield-McCoy feud. Devil Anse Hatfield’s brother, Valentine is my great-grandfather.”
Jeep graduated from Williamson High School in 1970 and left for the U.S. Air Force the same day he graduated. He flew combat missions in Vietnam, then attended college at Ohio State University.
“I was an aircrew member on C130 aircraft and traveled the world over many times,” Jeep said. Then he came back home to West Virginia.
“I moved to Matewan and worked for Massey Coal for several years,” he told the Daily News. “During that time I hooked up with various local musicians and played with several bands around Matewan and Williamson. The unpredictable ups and downs of the coal industry gave me the encouragement to move south, so I relocated to Charleston, S.C.”
Since 1987, Jeep has been in and around Charleston playing solo and then with duos and in bands, most notably, doing several years with a group called “Blue Eyed Soul.”
But Jeep’s roots are in songwriting.
“About five or six years ago I ran into Carol Brown, a songwriter extraordinaire, and became inspired and encouraged in my own songwriting again,” he said. “I got involved with Carol and a local songwriting group, ended up joining the NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International), signed with BMI, and have been focused on my own style of songwriting ever since.”
Jeep’s style has been called a combination of Hank Williams, Jr., Johnny Cash and Neil Young. He said he tries to tell a story through music.
“One of my friends once told me, the best thing about my songwriting was every song is a story and you can’t wait to hear what the next line will say,” he said.
“Sometimes sad, sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, I try to find something somebody can relate to.Through my songs I try to reach out and touch the listener’s emotions.”
“Low Country” is available for download on iTunes, Zune, Napster and AmazonMP3 and CD Baby.
He plans to play a show in the Williamson or Matewan area this summer. Dates and details will be announced.
Find out more about Jeep and his music at his website: www.jeepwhite.com; at Reverbnation: www.reverbnation.com/jeepwhite; and on Facebook: Jeep White Musician.