By Richard Thomas
If you find yourself attending one of the growing series of evening entertainment events taking place at Kentucky’s Bourbon distilleries, you might look up at the musicians on stage and wonder if they too are Bourbon drinkers. It’s a fair question, and one I put to Scott Southworth. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest and now based in Nashville, this classic country singer-songwriter is playing at Barton 1792 in Bardstown on October 19th. And yes, he does like a pour of good Bourbon.
RT: So, just what do you have on your whiskey shelf at home right now?
SS: 1792 Small Batch, Makers Mark, Willet Pot Still Reserve, Evan Williams Small Batch 1783 and Clayton James Tennessee Whiskey.
RT: You relocated from the Northwest to Nashville. What were some of your favorite whiskey watering holes back at home, and what are some of your favorites now?
SS: It’s been over 20 years since I lived in Oregon and with all of the micro-breweries up there, I was more of a craft beer guy back then. Bourbon was something I really began to know and appreciate once I moved to Tennessee. As far as places to enjoy a drink here in the South…typically I like a nice bourbon when I am performing, so The Bluebird Cafe, Commodore Grille and Blue Bar in Nashville, Bourbon Barrel Tavern in E-Town, Crystelle Creek in Gatlinburg are all nice rooms with great selections! I’m guessing I will have a new favorite after my gig October 19 at the Very Old Barton Distillery!
RT: Have you dabbled much in that thriving Tennessee craft whiskey scene?
SS: Lately yes, I mentioned Clayton James earlier, the TennSouth Distillery in Lynnville TN is coming up with some very tasty offerings, Prichard’s Double Barrel Bourbon is especially nice and I do enjoy some of George Dickel’s whisky’s as well.
RT: You’ve got a couple of songs about the Water of Life, but whiskey figures prominently in country music, moreso than gin or rum, say. How much of that choice, singing about whiskey, to do with your preferences and how much is country norms?
SS: Speaking for myself, it is my spirit of choice and it tends to have a prominent place in my songs…Whiskey has so many great rhyme opportunities: Miss me, Kiss me, Risky, Frisky, etc…Vodka just doesn’t sound right in a song! Also, it is so specifically Southern to me. It just tastes right on the back porch swing with the fireflys blinking and the sun going down. To be fair, when I was in the Bahamas this spring, Rum just tasted right, Wine seems to go better in Northern California…I guess I am geographically influenced!
RT: Do you find whiskey lubricates your own creative process?
SS: Sometimes…but since I write quite a bit while I’m driving, so obviously not then! But when friends are over at the cottage to write, we absolutely like to warm up with some “Songwriter Juice”. Ernest Hemingway is reported to have said “Write drunk, then edit sober.” I’m not a fan of doing anything drunk, but I’m never against a little glow in a writing session here at home! Cheers!