Special Photo ---- Tucker native Chris Massey will play at the Whistle Post Tavern in Olde Town Conyers on May 3.
When singer/songwriter Chris Massey takes the stage Friday, May 3 at the Whistle Post Tavern in Olde Town Conyers, he'll do so with considerable momentum.
The country singer and his band recently traveled to Nashville to appear on the popular "Billy Block Show," a televised showcase for up-and-coming talent that presented the Nashville debuts of the likes of Keith Urban, Jason Aldean, Trisha Yearwood and Big & Rich. While he was in Music City, Massey made plans for plenty of return visits by signing on with a local agency.
He's also scheduled (for a fee) a future songwriting session with famed country and rock insider Billy Burnette, whose long career in the music business includes touring with Bob Dylan and Fleetwood Mac and writing and producing for the Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison, among more than a dozen others.
"We were on Billy Block's show in late March and it was a lot of good exposure for us," said Massey, who grew up in Tucker and now lives in Atlanta. "Their research indicated they had 38,000 Internet devices tuned into the live simulcast."
Massey and his group -- Billy Jeansonne (drums), David Faulkner (bass) and Lance Seymour (guitar) -- will also embark on their first extended tour in June, hitting nine cities, including New York, Charlotte, Baltimore, Asbury Park, N.J., and New Haven, Conn., in 11 days.
"I booked this upcoming tour myself," said Massey. "My manager told me how I needed to do it, and it was a lot easier than I thought. And it's a whole lot easier, believe it or not, to book yourself in Baltimore than Atlanta. I guess they figure if you want to come all the way to Baltimore and you've got a couple of CDs, you must be somebody ... Things are moving in the right direction."
Beginning his musical journey more than 30 years ago in the Atlanta punk band the Mistakes, Massey also dabbled in R&B and soul before focusing on country music in the 1990s. Although there are plenty of rock 'n' roll elements present in his raucous live show, Massey leans toward the country side of life when writing songs.
"In 1990, I got married and pretty much got out of music and didn't do anything for about 14 years," he said. "When I got divorced, I picked my guitar back up and started writing and to be honest, it started to come together for me like it never had before. In the 1990s, I listened to more country music than I ever had before. It was the popular thing then.
"The other thing is, ever since I was 12 years old, I've been either looking for a girlfriend, trying to get out of a relationship or trying to maintain a relationship. Relationships are the thing I know the most about. So that's what I wrote about. A lot of the songs I write are about the dynamic between and man and a woman, and that's country. There's no other way around it."
The 51-year-old Massey acknowledges that even with the small push he's received in Nashville, he's realistic about his chances to make it big as a performer, although he's confidently ambitious about his songs.
"I think my strength is the writing," he said. "But I'm like everybody else -- I want the whole enchilada. But I will take the rice and beans if that's all I get. Anything that comes my way -- even if I was able to sell a song, that would allow me to go on the road and play clubs and stuff like that. I would be perfectly happy with that. I'm more interested in my songs becoming famous than me."
He released "Cowboy Heart" last spring, which also helped open doors. The 10-song album -- Massey's second -- will be available at his Whistle Stop show.
"I'm very satisfied with the album," Massey said, adding he plans to return to the studio in October to record his third album. "Of course, like anything, once you listen to it over and over, you think about what you could have done differently, but it was basically cut for promotional purposes. It's gotten us booked in Nashville and it's what we used to book our tour dates. It met every expectation I was hoping for as far as presenting me as an artist.
"We didn't sell a lot of copies -- probably less than 500. We sell it at shows and I've probably given away more than we've sold. But the goal wasn't to sell. The goal was to showcase my songwriting and the songs and the band."
Massey plans a deft blend of country covers and his own compositions and says that audiences enjoy what he's pushing.
"This is a place where we fill in the whole night -- from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.," he said. "We're going to play 35 to 40 songs and the show will be about half covers and half originals. We do Alan Jackson, Dwight Yoakam and Clint Black songs, and we do some old-school stuff like Buck Owens and Johnny Cash and we're pretty big on Merle Haggard -- we do like four of his tunes.
"We mix our songs in pretty nicely. It's all along the same line as our cover tunes. I build the songs up and tell stories about the songs and try to sell as many CDs as I can. The times when we've played nothing but originals in front of people who have never seen us before, we've done really well. We played the Mercy Lounge in Nashville before about 75 people and the response we got was really good and they didn't know us from Adam."
For more information on Chris Massey, visit www.reverbnation.com/chrismasseyband.