Americana (Lafayette, IN)
Digby’s Stage (4th Street) 7:30pm – 8:15pm
After nearly a decade of work, Scott is giving his fans an even closer look at his music and his life with the release of “Wabash Gypsies,” a collection of instrumental acoustic guitar music he wrote with Kevin Ludwig, who performs with Scott in the band Trouble with Monday. This time, Scott is telling the story without words, letting his guitar speak about his life’s journey over the past 10 years, the loss of his first wife Jan and the grief that followed, and the challenge of honoring that part of his life and moving on.
The idea for the CD began in 2001 with the composition of “The Prophet,” which as an acoustic instrumental piece required Scott to work without his trademark lyrics and to express himself solely through the music. “That song forced me to express myself musically and to be a better guitar player,” he said. “It required me to use my fingers and strings to express myself.”
He described the writing partnership with Kevin as “electrifying” as the two began writing the instrumental acoustic guitar music together in bits and pieces. “That’s the magic about Kevin and me,” Scott said. “I had to let myself be led to improvisational writing. It’s very different for me.”
While this is Scott’s first instrumental CD, it is the third of his career, following “Hoosier Surf” (1997) and “The Proving Grounds,” (1999).
Scott’s songs are best described as poetic snapshots of folks living in America’s heartland, his lyrics painting the picture of real, hard-working people whom Scott encounters in everyday life. These people and their stories have been a constant source of inspiration for Scott as a person and a songwriter. Radio stations call Scott’s music “Americana,” a format blending folk, traditional, bluegrass, alternative country and acoustic blues.
Scott grew up in Lafayette, Indiana, and his earliest musical inspirations came from folks living in the “cornfield turned subdivision” where he grew up: a neighbor who taught him to play guitar, older kids who introduced him to rock and roll, and his parents who made certain he sang in the church choir and also exposed him to country radio. Scott’s early influences ranged from Credence Clearwater Revival to Merle Haggard to country church hymns – he listened to and loved it all.
Scott started his first rock band at age 12 and wrote his first tune, “Love in the Third Degree,” at age 15. Ironically, the first tune was a country ballad with some Hank Williams Jr. overtones that yielded Scott some teasing from his hard-rocking fellow musicians. Scott also won an award for the song in a statewide songwriting competition. Although his winnings from the contest were limited to some fried chicken, a dozen donuts and some albums that no one really wanted, Scott realized then someone might actually want to hear what he had to say through his music.
Scott’s faith is a large part of his evolution as a singer and a songwriter, as he found church to be a place where he found affirmation for his music skills. “The church choirs were a place for me to feel like I really belonged,” he said. “It was the first acknowledgement by anyone to say, ‘hey, you have a talent to sing.’ ”
His unending love for songwriting and performing music has brought him to the place his is today – with three CDs, an increasing demand for stage appearances and opportunities to help others through raising money for patients battling heart disease and helping young songwriters launch their careers.
A portion of the proceeds from “Wabash Gypsies” goes to the Adult Congenital Heart Association in memory of Scott’s first wife, Jan, who died October 13, 2006 at age 43 after a lifelong struggle with heart disease. “Jan’s Journey,” recorded for “Wabash Gypsies,” is a tribute to her. “It represents the life Jan and I had together and its ending – it’s building to something great – something more than all the good things on Earth. It’s saying goodbye to the bad things here and moving to that something great beyond here.”
Scott co-founded the Songwriters Association of Mid-North Indiana and the Shirley Martin Scholarship for Young Songwriters. The association fosters and encourages songwriters to continue their creative efforts with monthly meetings and shows in Lafayette. The scholarship program rewards songwriting beginners with monetary scholarships and a custom-made guitar to further their music aspirations.
In January 2006, Scott and Kevin’s original material that became the basis for “Wabash Gypsies” was used in the PBS documentary “The Wabash: Life on the Bright White River.”
The documentary, produced by Gary Harrison and initially broadcast on Indianapolis affiliate WFYI, featured “The Prophet” and also showed Scott and Kevin during a live riverside performance.
Scott manages Hoosier Surf Records, an independent record label. Over the past few years, he has produced CD projects for several other recording artists and various organizations.
Scott and Vickie
In their current duo, Vickie and Scott trade off on lead vocals. mixing original tunes with captivating covers. Audiences particularly enjoy their warm harmony vocals, acoustic guitars and Vickie’s ability to sweeten the sound with piano accordion. Scott and Vickie have been married since 2008 and this duo is commonly accompanied by other top notch musicians at venues such as corporate events, festivals, churches, parks and restaurants. In the summer of 2009, they were the featured worship musicians for Goodwill industries International Convention at the Westin Hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana. They were also featured entertainment at Conner Prairie Historic Park, Fishers, Indiana, in October 2009.
“Scott is an amazingly-talented and versatile musician,” says his wife, Vickie Maris Greeson. “He has a passion for making sure everyone around him is comfortable and happy. Every day that we step onto the stage, I say a prayer of thanks that I have the opportunity to harmonize with my hubby and that we can work side-by-side in this business of entertainment. It is a rare privilege and I hope never to take it for granted.
“I am also grateful for each and every member of the band and the cohesiveness of the group. It allows for a level of artistic creativity and flexibility that might not be possible otherwise. Together, Scott and I feel we’ve been blessed to be able to share in our hobbies and to share our music with you from the stage, surrounded by such an incredible group of musicians. It is those rock-solid men and women around us, and the many people who come out to listen, who make performing music such fun and such an honor.”
Scott also keeps up with a demanding performance schedule, including appearances with Trouble with Monday at Verizon Wireless Music Center in Noblesville on the VIP stage prior to concerts this year by Rascal Flatts and George Strait. He also performs at venues around Indiana and throughout Greater Lafayette throughout the year, often with his wife Vickie, who plays and sings with him in a duo, or with Trouble with Monday. He and Vickie live on a farm near Battle Ground.
At his “real” job, Scott has worked for Alcoa Lafayette Operations for 25 years as a Senior Integrated Customer Engineering Specialist. He makes sure customer requirements for fabrication are correct and understandable to those on Alcoa’s production floor. “I have been blessed to have a real job and also to play these wonderful venues,” Scott said. “I do feel my strength lies in the writing side of things,” he said, musing about where music will take him next. “I see myself continuing to do this, traveling, playing music with Vickie and the band and continuing to mentor young people,” he said. “There are so many ideas that I want to expand upon – recording projects, a new studio…”
Through his music, life and career, Scott reminds us that hope, hard work, perseverance and faith give life to our heart’s desires. “The whole ‘Wabash Gypsies’ thought is this,” Scott said. “All of us who live here go about our lives wandering the banks. The river, like so many other common things in our lives, easily fades to oblivion when it comes to our ability to recognize sustained beauty.”
“Some artists perform the songs, some artists are the songs. Scott is definitely the latter.” (Brent Laidler, President of the Songwriter’s Association of Mid-North Indiana)