West Virginia South April - May 2019 - Page 43

O n his new album — produced by Mountain Stage's Ron Sowell and featuring top-tier West Virginia musicians such as renowned mandolinist Johnny Staats, guitarist Bud Carroll, singer Annie Neeley, dobro player Chris Stockwell, Wild Rumpus bassist Clint Lewis and Mountain Stage drummer Ahmed Solomon — Adkins also displays his most versatile vocals yet. His scratchy, Appalachian-hued twang can bark out words of old-fash- ioned wisdom such as "If you always do what you've always done / you'll always get what you've got" or trail off in a near-whisper on an evocative lyric like "five-hundred horses and a four on the floor / American steel that they don’t even make anymore." Those rich, raspy vocals have made him a favorite of many musicians in southern West Virginia. "He has this nostalgic singing voice, much like the storytellers I grew up around who sang and played guitar," says Adkins' fellow Fayetteville singer-songwriter Kathleen Coffee. It reminds me of family, of home here in the Appala- chian Mountains." Adkins grew up in Summersville, not far from his current hometown, in a music-loving family. "We used to drive to Florida, and we'd travel at night because my brothers were rowdy. My brothers and my mom would sleep, and I'd sit on my knees between the front seats of our van and sing with my dad," he says. "I was a huge fan of Harry Chapin [of 'Cat's in the Cradle' fame], and I knew every word to all his songs. We'd sing those, or we'd sing stuff by Kenny Rogers or John Prine." APRIL-MAY '19 ❖ SOUTH ❖ 43