Scott James Stambaugh has always been a writer. Short stories, a novel, and his popular movie reviews for the Cherokee Scout have always been more for fun than work. But music has always been taken very seriously, even well before he could ever make any of his own.
“I wrote songs in my head, entire concerts that I kept to myself, too embarrassed to share them,” he says. “I still remember some of them; I still remember what I was doing when I wrote them.”
He was well into adulthood before he ever began making music in earnest, buying his first guitar on a whim shortly after moving to Murphy, NC in 1999. Try as he might, every early effort to learn the songs of his musical heroes came to naught, not by lack of effort or ability – though there was certainly that at first – but because every effort ended with him taking a bit of the chord structure he was trying to learn and heading off in his own direction, turning it into a song of his own. Soon he was writing songs in his own bittersweet, and often hilarious style.
Open mics slowly gave him a bit of confidence in front of an audience, but it was in forming his own band that truly brought Stambaugh into his own. The Twelve-Gauge Persuaders, in which he shared frontman duties, was a true alt-country / roots-rock powerhouse, and quickly disproved the notion that a local band must play other people’s songs. You can play originals, they just have to be good. His were, as were those of fellow songwriter and bandmate Greg Bauman, and TGP quickly built a local following. An album later, and TGP was gracing the stage at the prestigious Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga.
Since the band’s demise in 2013, Stambaugh has been honing his writing skills, gigging like crazy, and recording an album of his own, Stupid Ghost. Bursting with verve, heartbreak and humor, Stupid Ghost is a varied and heady brew, and while backed by a revolving batch of the area’s very best musicians, it still reflects perfectly the attention to craft and desire to connect so obvious in every solo performance.
At once funny, smart, swaggering and humble, Stambaugh is able to bridge the divide between the coffeehouse crowd, the biker crowd, and the good ole’ redneck beer hall crowd with equal aplomb. Those who come to one of those performances and listen will find a songwriter at the very top of his game, as able to bring laughter as bring tears in the tradition of his musical heroes, McCartney, Waylon and Willie, Guy Clark, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne… the list is endless.
Opportunities to catch one of his local performances, however, are not endless: Stambaugh is moving to Austin, Texas, in September, taking his chops to the musical big leagues. Don’t let him get away without catching one of his shows. You never know; you may be saying you saw him when…
Saturday, April 19th 5:00 – 8:00
No cover charge