Mississippi native Cary Hudson said moving to Los Angeles in 1990 gave him a different perspective on music and helped open his eyes to the idea of celebrating his heritage, upbringing, musical tastes and his accent.
"You don't realize you have an accent until you move away," he said in a telephone interview.
For Hudson, country music was what he listened to with his grandfather, a man who loved country pioneer Jimmie Rodgers. Hudson also learned to play country the way blues greats Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside did, and he loved the outlaw country of Waylon Jennings, but he said the idea of basing his own music and style on those guys didn't seem like a good idea until he moved west.
"It was out in Los Angeles that I became more conscious of where I was from," he said.
He was also listening at the time to bands like the Replacements, the Jayhawks and Hüsker Dü, and his eyes began to open when a friend told him he thought the blues style of guitar playing that he occasionally did was cool.
"I was also into outlaw country with people like Waylon, so I had that in my background, but I just didn't think it was cool at the time. I began understanding that my special power was that I was Southern."
Hudson, who will play a solo acoustic set Feb. 5 with "just little ol' me, my '37 arch top with an internal pickup and my '67 amp" at The Woodshop in St. Elmo, has been at the forefront of the alt-country/Americana movement with bands like the Hilltops and later Blue Mountain.
He was joined in the first by twins John Stirratt (now with Wilco) and Laurie Stirratt, who was also Hudson's wife and bandmate in Blue Mountain.
IF YOU GO
— What: Cary Hudson
— When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5
— Where: The Woodshop, 5500 St. Elmo Ave.
— Admission: $20
— Phone: 423-803-6165
He said he was aware of the movement while it was happening. Over the years, he has played with acts like Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, The Jayhawks and Willie Nelson. Hudson began a solo career in 2002 when the group took a break.
"For me, there was an awareness of what was going on because we knew of bands like Uncle Tupelo and the Jayhawks. We knew those guys. And, even though we didn't know these guys, we knew of Jason and The Scorchers.
"It felt like we were embarking on this journey between punk rock and country rock and blues rock," he said.
"One of the coolest things about that scene was that the punk-rock scene wasn't trying to be smooth or slick, even though bands like the Jayhawks were very slick, but it was kind of rough and rowdy."
Hudson said he has been out touring of late, but mostly in and around Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. The pandemic gave him time to find his songwriting muse, so he has been writing. He's also refound his love for his electric Les Paul, which he'd put away for awhile, and he is putting a band together "to rock out."
"The Les Paul is like me and beat to pieces, but I spent some money and had it fixed up with new electronics and stuff. I got it back and was like, 'Wow, this is great fun.'"
For now, however, he said he's happy playing his acoustic guitar, telling stories and singing his songs.
"I'm excited about coming to Chattanooga," he said.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.