Ashland Daily Independent OnlineAshland Daily Independent Newspaper (Kentucky)
This article appeared in the Ashland Daily Independent Newspaper Online July 5, 2010, written by TIM PRESTON

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Free’s latest release stays true to him

sometimes a song‘Sometimes a Song’ blends folk, island and Native American sounds

Tim Preston The Independent

ASHLAND — Steve Free makes no excuses for being himself on his latest recording, “Sometimes a Song.”

Free said Charlie Daniels heard him play more than 20 years ago and said, “You’ve got a unique sound — stick with it. In the music business it’s better to be different than it is to be good.” Other musicians, some who aren’t even fans of his style, often tell him they admire him for “doing my thing,” instead of trying to mimic the latest musical trend.

With a chuckle, Free says it isn’t really a matter of choice.

“It’s the only way I can play. I couldn’t change if I wanted to,” he said. “It just sounds like me.

“You can’t say folk-rock anymore because nobody knows what that means, but that’s what it is,” he said.

His latest recording, “Sometimes a Song,” is a continuation of a musical journey began with a buddy and a folk duo called Muddle Pudding “playing protest songs in the 1970s.” He has since recorded numerous albums featuring his own blend of folk, island and American Indian influences.

“On this one I just did what I wanted to do,” he said, explaining the title of the album by adding, “Sometimes a song tells you what it wants to do.”

The songs on the new album do feature more instruments, including Native American flute and double flute, than his past efforts. Free is backed by Susan Sammons-Free on vocals, tin whistle and percussion, Wyatt Bates on drums, percussion and chimes, John Craig on accordion and vocals and bassist John Starkey. Others who contributed their talents to the recording were Craig Nobles, Bobby Burnette, Stephanie Scragg, David Johnson, Dan and Debbie Ward, Gary Billups, Dakota Free, and a chorus made up of Free along with Skylar LeBrun, Chris Cooper, Susan Free and Buddy Bates. The album is dedicated to the memory of Free’s “friend and mentor” Shad O’Shea.

Free, now in his 50s and performing more than 200 shows per year, said his ambition is to reflect the Appalachian way of life.

“One of my favorite things to do is take this area’s music to other places ... to give people a little slice of what it’s like here. I’ve spent my whole life trying to convince people that just because you’re from here doesn’t mean you can only play bluegrass, country music and go ’Yee-Haw!” he said with a grin. “I want to convince people that Appalachian and arts do belong in the same sentence.”

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To hear music clips from "Sometimes a Song" click here


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