Loyd Star's Nix brothers in spotlight
By guest columnist R. Shaw Furlow & Bob Arnold
I have written over the years about composers and songwriters. I hold them in high regard. Whether I was conducting a concert piece by Francis McBeth or performing a song by Kris Kristofferson, I tried to honor the composer by playing the piece the way they wanted it played. Without them we have no music. Pretty simple.
There are good songwriters everywhere, not just in Nashville, New York or Los Angeles, but in Loyd Star and Wesson. You may not have heard of the Nix brothers from Loyd Star yet, but you soon will. I turn my attention to them because I am fascinated by the composition process. At Delta State, I had a professor who every day at 10 a.m. closed his door, turned out the lights, sat at his piano and wrote for an hour and a half. Some days he sat there and kept nothing he wrote. Other days he was more successful. I asked him about the bad days and he said it was just part of his process. I suspect it's the same way with the Nix brothers. Or maybe there's something in the water at Loyd Star. Let me tell you about them.
Jason, the older of the two, who uses the name Nix professionally, recently received the Country Music Academy award for writing the song of the year, Lainey Wilson’s hit What a Man Should Know.
Brother Steven is making his name in Nashville as well. I remember trying to recruit him to become part of the Co-Lin Blue Wave Show Band, but his family moved to Nashville after his junior year. His story there reflects why I am so fascinated by the composition process.
Like every starting artist, Steven had a day job while working on songwriting in the evening. One day, after his shift at Kroger, he decided to go all in, quit his job and started writing songs full time. He put three songs on a demo tape and gave it to a friend who gave it to a friend who gave it to a friend.
Within seven months he had a publishing deal with a major Nashville publishing house. “Man, that deal opened so many doors for me,” Steven told me a few days ago. “It put me in touch with a lot of people.” It didn’t take long before he had a record deal, and his first hit was The Human Race.
My buddy, song writer Tony Norton, contacted Steven about a song idea he had. Before long, they agreed to co-write a song and they set a plan in motion. They wrote via FaceTime -- a video and audio communication service of Apple, and the song Silverado Wobble resulted from their electronic collaboration after only a couple meetings.
“This song is so not me, but when we sat down it just sort of came out,” Norton says. “It’s sort of a dance tune.”
After the song was written, they had to get in the studio for Steven to cut the vocals. “From what little I know about Nashville, things don’t move fast,” Norton tells, and it took several months before the record was ready to release.
There’s an interesting phenomenon in the music industry today. While air play, downloads and streams mean a lot, the app Tik Tok has a way of finding dance songs. People make thirty second dances and the song takes off. This is what happened to Silverado Wobble. You can look at @nixmusic on Tik Tok.
I asked Norton if he and Steven planned to continue their collaboration. Norton's response: “Yeah, maybe. We’ll see.” Every songwriter I know has a list of titles or hooks on their smart phones. It wouldn’t surprise me if Norton and Nix are heard from again.
That’s it for this month. Festivals are coming back this summer. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and hearing good live music. Support the arts, my friends.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Shaw Furlow is a local composer, musician and arts promoter. He produces an internet-based video show -- From the Shadyside -- that spotlights area musical talent and is a consultant to school bands in the region. Bob Arnold is Editor of the Wesson News.