BRAXTON CALHOUN Counting His Blessings For His Musical Career
You may have caught country singer/songwriter Braxton Calhoun’s show at the Mars Theater recently, where he rocked the house and left it all onstage. But throwing a good party and giving a thousand percent to his audience is nothing new to this Springfield native, who says “It’s country but I play it like it’s rock and roll.” Braxton is country born and bred, you can hear it in his voice and in the songs he writes, from rousing bar anthems to deeply felt ballads.
Braxton made his way to the home of country music some years ago. He says, “I started coming to Nashville when I was 19 or 20 years old. After high school I was going from job to job, because I wasn’t interested in school, and I was looking for a change and Nashville seemed like a good spot. By the time I was 21 I had locked down an apartment and became a Nashville resident.”
Like almost every country singer that comes to Nashville, Braxton took paying jobs any which way he could. He says spent the first couple of years juggling both musical and construction gigs while getting his start. He says, “There were times when I’ve done electrical work to keep going. Back then I would play a show, pack up, drive all night back to Nashville and get dropped off at the job site. You got to the keep climbing the ranks, you got to cut your teeth down on Broadway and the road, and you just have to play a lot. But the past couple of years I’ve been blessed enough to make a living only playing music.” Not too many musicians can say that and it is a testimony to his talent and determination that has propelled Braxton to this point.
Original song writing is nothing new for Braxton. “I always considered myself a songwriter,” he says, “I stay busy on the road, playing dates here and there but song writing is my main goal. The touring supplements my income to pursue writing. I’m older, and I have been doing this, performing, for years and years. Right now I am fully transitioning to song writing.”
Braxton says, “I have plenty of good time party songs, but lately I have written deeper songs with more feeling. My new song “Worn Out” is a great example of that and probably the most open I’ve ever been. It’s a tune about anyone that ever struggled with addictions of any kind.”
The chorus to “Worn Out”
“Well I’m feeling worn out… but not worn in and I could lose a fight with the wind
and all the bad mistakes, they show up in mind, late at night I’m awake in this grave, living with the shame … and going day by day…” (copyrighted music and lyrics by Braxton Calhoun). He says, “I really enjoy writing a song and seeing it produced in a studio setting. To see a song I wrote go all the way, to a full track or a CD, that is exciting. I would say that’s probably where my true passion is.” Always writing, he says he particularly likes his new song, “Where the Corn Grows.” The chorus goes like this:
“Where the Corn Grows Slow”
Don’t you wanna go… down the road
where the corn grows real slow.
Don’t you wanna ride… take a drive…
keep them kernels popping all night
Can you feel the heat, ‘neath your seat
from this ole John Deere green..
don’t you wanna gooooooo
where the corn grows slow…”
(copyrighted music and lyrics by Braxton Calhoun)
Touring means just that- being out there on the road and playing dates from one end of the country to the other. Braxton says he explored the world on the road with his band, especially in his mid twenties. ”At one point I was playing one hundred and fifty dates a year with just a Suburban and a U-Haul. This ain’t glamorous. It looks nice on Facebook and CMT, but there is an underbelly to touring all the time.” As most performers will tell you, touring is a blur of cheap food, cheap motels and bouncing from one city to the next. But he still likes to go out and put on a great show and says, “I love performing and I joke that I am more of a game show host because I don’t just sing, I entertain the audience. I give them a show. Some musicians just play the songs but not me, I talk to you, the audience, and make a connection. I just did a private corporate event and I was jumping on tables, getting the audience worked up and giving everyone the best possible time. I give it all I got. You got to give it your all, especially in this town.” Thinking about the big name stars that have made it, Braxton says, “ It takes a lot to get to the top tier level, and for anyone who has reached it, you have to admire that.”
He says, “Musicians come to this town everyday and you are but one small piece of the pie. Thousands of bands play all over the country every day. You need to think about what makes you special? What makes a venue invite you back?” He and his band just got back from playing Spring Break at the most famous beach bar in the country, the Flora-Bama Lounge, located in Orange Beach, Alabama and Perdido Key, Florida. He says, “We have played there several times a year for the past 6 years. I think I get invited back because of my professionalism, on top of giving a great show!” You can catch Braxton and his band there this summer, June 13 &14, July 6 & 7, and July 23 & 24, playing shows nightly.
“My wife Sarah, I can’t thank her enough” he says, “ I would have lost steam a long time ago without her.” Braxton says, “She has been right there for me and I think a lot of people wouldn’t understand the depth of the sacrifices she makes.” Sarah is a nurse at Vanderbilt Hospital in downtown Nashville. “She will get off work at Vanderbilt at night and then walk into to town to catch the end of my show. That’s my wife. She is another blessing. She is the best.”
Springfield, Georgia is another sweet spot. It’s where he launched his career by singing at his high school graduation. Braxton says, “I love my hometown. Sarah loves it too and we have talked about the future. We will end up there one day, and I will be picking and grinning and having a fine time. But right now Nashville is home. We’ve lived and worked in every suburb so we know it inside and out. It is a great city and it’s a growing town. Construction is booming, in fact there are seven new bars opening, and we just hosted the NFL draft!”
In fact, last year Forbes’ annual ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing cities ranked Nashville at number 7, a big jump up from its slot at number 20 the year before. An oft quoted statistic attests that 100 people a day moved to the town last year, and that has only slowed up slightly to the figure of 82 a day as of April 2019.
“I am doing fantastic! I have had a lot of ups and downs in my personal life and as a musician in this town but the Lord has blessed me. Braxton says there are people he looks up to, “I admire several people, one being Sean Rivers , who is President of “Nashville Talent Community” Label and helps book me as well as mentoring musicians like myself to help us reach out goals in the music industry” . Braxton says, “He has been a big influence on me, my life and my career, Sean is a rock in my corner, through good and bad news he has encouraged me.“ Braxton continues, “And I am blessed to have the support of my beautiful wife and of my family and friends. When I played the Mars Theater in Springfield two weeks ago , all four of my sisters were wearing my tee shirts and sitting in the front row! I know I am a blessed man.”