The Pea Pickin’ Hearts are an Appalachian/Americana music duo, based in Gatlinburg, influenced by the sounds of the 1940s & 50s. The name “Pea Pickin’ Hearts” is a reference to none other than Tennessee Ernie Ford’s famous line “Bless your Pea Pickin’ Heart.” We have a lot of odd connections to Ernie. The name is a tribute to our history with each other & our adopted TN home. We’re always writing new songs & tweaking our sound. Keep an eye on our calendar ’cause we’ll be trying a few of them out in town. Stay Tuned!
This bio is excerpted from a previously unpublished interview by Publicist Toni Morton. For press purposes, this interview may be quoted without attribution. You may download high resolution images from our ReverbNation press kit.
Are you originally from Tennessee?
“No–far from it. I was born in Wisconsin then moved to Arizona then to Kentucky then to South Carolina–only to land in Gatlinburg, TN in the Spring of 2007.
“Rachel’s grandmother considers me a Yankee, but she also considers any man, woman, or child, not born in the great state of Virginia or Tennessee, a Yankee.”
Earliest music memories?
You’re a classically trained percussionist, right?
I started out in the school band playing drums because it was as close to a rock ‘n’ roll instrument as I could get in school. Eventually, I ended up with a music scholarship to USC, the principal timpanist position with the SC Philharmonic, then a public school music director before quitting it all to pursue Rock ‘N’ Roll.
I spent years in and out of rock bands, most notably the Tinbenders, touring the country before the band split up to have kids and cars and careers. My wife was our booking agent, and she grew up in Georgia which, according to her, requires some level of devotion to country. So through my early exposure and then the later revisitation, I found something I loved in East Tennessee’s music.
And what is that “something” you love about the music of East Tennessee?
I love the musicianship, the harmonies, the “guts” of it all. The studio musicians & performers are amongst the best in the world, and that appeals to the Rush-loving kid in me. That musicianship, coupled with beautiful harmonies and a great turn of phrase, appeals to me. It is a perfect marriage. It is the sound I want to produce: simple & well-crafted.
And why Rachel–I mean, as a singing partner?
Our lives together are musical. We’ve always sung together in our home, in a previous band & to our child. After a decade, I know where she’s going before she gets there. It is a bond between us. She’s a great writer. She’s pitch perfect. And, well, she does a mean Patsy Cline.
What brought you to Tennessee?
We visited a number of towns when we decided to move, and Gatlinburg won.
I know that it sounds incredibly hokey, but the Great Smoky Mountains are breath-taking. As a family, we are just three of the hundreds of folks that came to visit the Smokies and just never left.
What are your earliest musical memories?
My 1st albums were Elvis, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson. I played them until I knew every word to every song. And then, there was the Saturday morning ritual with my great-aunt Maggie–piling into her convertible yellow Dodge Dart with the leopard-print seat covers to go to the record shop. We’d buy the top 10 singles on 45s each week then go back dance our way through them in the middle of the livingroom.
Do you have any formal music training?
I learned to sing harmonies in choirs at both church and school then studied a little opera. But I learned most of what I know by listening to Patsy Cline sing. I love her stylization. Her tone cannot be replicated. I’ve never heard anyone convey heart and heartache quite like that.
Well, it wasn’t just Patsy, but I confess to loving her best. Dolly Parton makes my heart sing too, but I sing country because it is what I know & love. I love rock ‘n’ roll; however, I must admit, I own EVERYTHING by Dwight Yoakam section–really. That’s telling enough.
Where did the name come from?
“Pea Pickin’ Hearts” is a reference to none other than Tennessee Ernie Ford’s famous line “Bless your pea pickin’ heart.” We have many odd connections to Ernie. My mother was judged Sophomore Beauty by Tennessee Ernie Ford in High School. Jon does the best cover of “Sixteen Tons” I’ve ever heard. It is a tribute to my history with Jon, our adopted TN home.
What is the next big project for the Pea Pickin’ Hearts?
We’re working on a new CD that should be available soon. We’re working hard on writing the songs, and we’re always trying a few of them out in town. If people want to keep track of us, Follow us on Facebook or subscribe to our Blog.
Better yet, Come see a Show!