|Scott Leslie's musical style hits home with a lot of people because he gives a voice to common American experiences, small towns, first loves and spending time with friends.|
"Somewhere Close To Nowhere" describes any one of a thousand little towns across the country where friends sit straddling an old wooden bench flecked with faded red paint and talk about the old days. Places where you can walk down a shaded sidewalk on any given afternoon, and smell fresh cut grass, Southern bar-b-que and hot dogs out on the grill. Communities where Little League baseball dominates the summer, football is the only topic of conversation in the fall and winter is for deer and duck hunting. This song also describes Scott's hometown of Southaven, Mississippi. Southaven straddles the musical bench between Memphis to the north, still hopping with Elvis and Rock-n-Roll, and the Mississippi Delta to the south with its deep Blues and soulful Gospel history.
This music swept Scott along as an intertwined part of the culture in the Mid-South. Maybe it stems from generations of people sitting on the porch in the heat of a summer day when there is nothing else to do but pick a guitar, hum a church hymn and try to pass the time. Or maybe it?s because Memphis is a working, blue-collar town where music simply helps people finish work and get home to their families. Or maybe there is just something in the water of the muddy Mississippi River.
But it all comes back to the people. Scott grew up with down to earth people. People who still do business over breakfast at Hazel?s Restaurant (often served by Hazel herself), seal the deal with a handshake and then argue over who can pick up the check first. His music comes from these folks with basic American goals and dreams. "When I sit down with my guitar and pencil, I find myself telling their stories," says Scott, "When I play, you may hear great music, but I hear Friday night football games, fishing trips with my Granddad and chatting with a stranger for an hour at the Farmer's Market."
When people ask Scott what type of music he plays, he usually gets a blank stare when he tells them "Mississippi Music". Then the inevitable question "what's that?" usually said with a little southern twang. He laughs and explains, "That's what comes out when you throw gospel, southern rock-n-roll, a big dose of Elvis, and some country music into a barn, then go in about an hour later and clean out the stalls. What's left is Mississippi's music." Its music like "Gitty Up" which is fun to listen to and makes you want to tap your toe, but is still a mix of country and rock with a Western twist.
Scott is often quick with a laugh and in a short time will have everyone around laughing with him. But a serious side emerges when he sits down to work on a song, especially a song which touches a nerve or brings out a sentiment he might like to leave buried. When asked about the song, "I Try", Scott replied, ?As I grow as a writer and performer, I find some songs that I may have written years ago become a new emotional trial. They stir up old feelings and push my limits to perform those songs live. I've often thought that writing a song is a little like writing in a diary, which you later read aloud to the entire world? it can?t help but be personal, emotional and heartfelt.? And those emotions come across to audiences as they listen and remember an old flame or an especially difficult breakup.
Sitting at his kitchen counter, sipping coffee from a chipped Ole Miss mug, Scott described his reasons for becoming a musician. ?My greatest desire is for one of my songs to be the trigger for a group of friends to roll down the truck windows and sing at the top of their lungs without a care in the world. I learned a long time ago that music can change people. Music can heal better than any drug. It can lift someone?s spirits when they feel like they can?t go any lower. It can stir ancient memories from an old relationship that never quite ended. Or, it can inspire someone to be brave, when they would rather run and hide. The ability to grab people and completely change their mental state is an awesome responsibility! Sometimes I think you should have to be licensed to carry a guitar and a microphone. LOL?
When you mention ?success? around Scott, he doesn?t hesitate with his response. ?To me, success is being able to stand up in front of my family and say ?we did it.? Meaning, we gave it our best shot and didn?t back down in the face of a thousand negative responses.? But on the topic of failure, Scott has equally strong feelings, ?Failure, on the other hand, is letting opportunities pass by because doing nothing was just easier. I?ve seen so many people come to this town (Nashville) and then leave without ever playing one note in a songwriter?s round or getting up for a single open mic night. If you come here and leave without trying, well that?s failure to me. There?s no shame in trying and failing because you gain confidence, experience and memories that you can tell your grandchildren about? but failing to try; that?s a different story.?
Ultimately, Scott sings what he knows best and has experienced. His style doesn?t require a degree in music theory to appreciate it. It makes you want to sing along. His goal is to write and perform for everyday people, his kind of people. His desire is to make music people can relate to, sing to and dance to? and along the way, he gets to share in their experiences. In the end, music should be something that touches people, and changes them in a spiritual way.