By Walter Price
Cole Washburn is a singer/songwriter who understands the history, the legacy of not just those who have come before him but has the understanding of deep-rooted traditions in storytelling. Each of the six tracks on his Traveler’s Moon EP could be excerpts from six books you want to fall into. Leaving intrigue and want in their wake.
Washburn travels in a calm demeanor through tales of love, redemption, loss, addiction, rekindling and hope in picturesque versed vignettes that warm and stimulate the thinker, traditionalist and even a bit of the hillbilly in all of us. With soothing elements of Don Williams, a smidgen of Springsteen, Jim Croce and more writing originality than you’ll find almost any place.
Congratulations on the fantastic Traveler’s Moon.
Thank you so much Walter
What is Franklin, TN like? I’ve been through on occasions, seemed like a cool small city.
Franklin has changed a lot in the past 15 years. It used to be a small town and lots of farm land. The farm land gets further and further outside of the city now but the small friendly town still remains. The downtown area has some amazing shops and some very nice music venues have sprouted up in the past few years.
“The first track “Anastasia” is really a song about addiction, recovery and redemption. Not only does the guy get his life together he also re-unites with the love of his life. So as sad as it may start out, it really is a song full of hope. “
What were you doing growing up, was music always you goal?
I think I tried just about everything you can imagine growing up. I played soccer, baseball, lacrosse, basketball. I’m a big outdoors guy so fishing and going fast on anything I could ride was always a big priority. Music came along when I was about 7 and started writing songs on the piano. Then when I was 12 I learned guitar and wrote a bunch of songs for girls at school. From then on I was hooked.
Talking about influences can be a bit cliche but you shadow many great voices on Traveler’s Moon. What is it about music from the past that intrigues you?
All of us are students. If we don’t think we are then we are truly ignorant. There are so many musicians that I learn so much from every day. I love the jazz music from the 20s and 30s and the music of Muscle Shoals really has my attention. All of my family is from the Eastern Hills of Kentucky and so I think that Mountain Music is simply in my blood.
“Beautiful to Me” is really a love poem set to music. I kind of had the scene from “Pride and Prejudice” in my head where she is standing on the cliffs and her dress is blowing in the wind. This guy is enthralled with the beauty of a woman who has stolen his heart and hidden it away.”
Also, the story telling song is almost a lost art. Is it easier for you to write in full story layout?
I wouldn’t say that writing stories is easier for me. I do enjoy a great story. I think everyone does. And I am fascinated by history. I want to know the stories behind the story. I love character development and the who and what and why behind why people make the choices they do. Telling stories is a wonderful way to learn about the human psyche.
I’m fascinated about how people find/translate your songs. You’ve mentioned the confusion some have had The Widow.
Well just like a piece of art, people will take away different things from song. The Widow is simply a snapshot. It is one story about one of the bloodiest battles in the U.S. Civil War. It happens to be about folks mostly on the confederate side which I guess for some people they find that offensive. I guess they may think that I am pro-slavery or pro-south. Well i am definitely not pro-slavery and I am not pro-north or south. I am an American. And I am a story teller and musician painting a picture for us of the heartache and sacrifice that it took on both sides of a war that all of us wish never had to happen.
“The Widow I knew was going to be a challenge from the start. I grew up in Franklin, TN which is the home of the Civil Wars “Battle of Franklin” Not far from where I lived was the Plantation home of Carrie McGavock who, with the help of her husband John, helped build one of the largest private Confederate cemeteries in the nation. The Widow is basically her story and the chance for the soldiers to pay their respects to the one who “gave them a restful home”.”
Do you ever envision what your songs would look like on screen when writing?
All the time. When writing The Widow I saw the scenes in my mind. I went to the battle field in Franklin and studied the landscape and listened to the tour guide and read about what happened. I wanted to feel the earth shake with the marching of the soldiers and see the smoke rise as the dew fell that fateful morning. The more visual I can get in my songs the more I feel I can take the listener on a true journey that transcends just the music itself.
You’ve been nominated for IMEA Americana Artist Of The Year, Americana Album Of The Year & Song Of The Year. That must feel great.
Totally unexpected. Totally delighted.
“Head Above The Water” is one of those songs that was completely different when I first wrote it. It really sounded more like a Pop ballad of some kind. Honestly it was a little cheesy so I kind of let it go for a while and came back to it. Now I’m just very excited about the track. I dug into my inner Bruce Springsteen and then added a little bluegrass and banjo and the incredible vocals of Anna Register. So far it really is the one that seems most inspiring to me.”
Who is in your band?
I generally try and travel with a 4-5 piece band. Upright bass, drums, dobro and violin. The players really depend on who is available. Musicians in these parts stay very busy on the road. Steve Ortiz is my drummer and backing vocalist. He also plays accordion and is a fantastic musician and friend.
Being over here in Germany I haven’t seen you live, what do you try and bring to your shows?
Our shows are really dynamic. I do some storytelling we do some great cover tunes that people really enjoy. The crowd really has an impact on the energy of our performances. If the crowd is boring they may stay that way…lol (Even though I do my best to light a fire under their arss) But if the crowd is looking to have a fun time, I guarantee they will!
“The fifth track on the CD is the title track “Traveler’s Moon”. I’ve always been fascinated with the fact that the light of the moon is a reflection of the light of the sun. And basically this song gave me the opportunity to encourage people along their journey knowing that the sun and moon were set in place to govern the day and the night and to remember that none of us are ever truly alone.”
Any horror tales from the road?
Let’s just say that I meet some very interesting characters. I think it best to leave it at that. Haha
What’s next for you Cole?
We are heading out on the road again this summer and playing some great upcoming festivals including a showcase for the AmericanaFest in Nashville in September.
“The final track we added on here was really meant to be saved for the full album (due out before Christmas 2014) but I wanted to share with folks a little bit of my funnier side. I’ve always been so serious with my music but Ol Will Brown is my chance to change that a little. I’m still not sure what inspired this song except a street in TN called Will Brown and a few beers. hahaha”
What are 5 Things the world should know about the man behind the music?
- I’m a mystery, even to myself.
- I am passionate about making great music.
- I love my fans.
- I’m a farmer and rancher in another life.
- I care about justice.
Thanks for talking with me today and, again, congratulations on Traveler’s Moon.
Thanks Walter. Been a pleasure.