Father, Son Find Song They Like on YouTube, Bring Artist to Newport
Patrick and 16-year old Christian Blair enjoy listening to music together and one day the father and son from Alexandria were looking for something new.
Their search on YouTube led them to the rising country singer-songwriter Zach DuBois, a Nashville-based artist who, like Patrick, is from Indiana.
The music spoke to the Blairs, so much so that Patrick worked to land DuBois for a show at Wooden Cask Brewery in Newport on Friday.
A suggested video on YouTube led to the event - which happens to fall on the weekend of Patrick's 50th birthday.
"We thought we'd give it a try and it ended up being an original country song we never heard before and we both really liked it," Patrick Blair told RCN. "It led us to find some more songs." And then they got into contact. "We found out he's from the same state I'm from, knew some of the same colleges and same people through six degrees of Kevin Bacon, and through that little bit of research, having never known or heard of the guy before, on a whim, I wrote to his website and asked if he'd be interested in coming to Northern Kentucky and singing for us."
DuBois, who happens to be a big fan of craft beer and always tries to sample a brewery and a coffee shop when he's on the road, will kick off his summer Stouts & Stories Tour with the newly added event.
"You can usually get the pulse of an area by visiting on of those places," DuBois told RCN.
Patrick Blair grew up in Indiana and moved to Northern Kentucky when he met his wife. They have three children. Songs by DuBois, who is from Elkhart, In., reminded Blair of his own upbringing in the Indianapolis suburbs.
"I'm annoying about my love for Indiana. He's so proud to be from Indiana, and even though we're probably 20 to 25 years apart in age, there was a real-life connection," Blair said. "He's a nice Hoosier guy. He sent me a contract rider and on it it said, six craft beers - optional, at your discretion. So, that's the kind of courtesy he brings to it."
DuBois will do an accoustic show at Wooden Cask, showing off his original material. There will be beer (stouts) and there will be time to talk (stories).
"I'm a huge admirer of singer-songwriters and I call it Stouts and Stories tour because I always loved sharing the background behind the stories I write, because each one comes from a real unique place," DuBois said. "Guys like John Denver, John Mellencamp, and Guy Clark and all sorts of other artists are huge inspirations for me, and I try to model my performance after them."
Patrick & Christian Blair (provided)
As DuBois chases his dream, Blair found that he achieved one of his, too. He's always wanted to produce a show. "I'm not suggesting we're discovering someone - he's done that on his own, but to introduce Zac and his music to Northern Kentucky in a great venue like Wooden Cask, I think that's pretty cool and a great way to celebrate mu fiftieth and to get to know someone from Nashville. ... It's a micro-dream come true."
Blair picked up on DuBois's Mellencamp vibe - after all, they're all Hoosier guys. In fact, in separate interviews, Blair referenced the same singer-songwriters that DuBois said he draws inspiration from.
"The more we listen to Zac," Blair said, "the more we liked his John Mellencamp-John Denver-country feel and our goal of bringing him here was always an accoustic show."
DuBois kicks off his summer tour just as he is about to make a change in life: he's been accepted to medical school.
"This will be a new chapter in my life," DuBois said. He was a pre-med student at Notre Dame, where he got into songwriting, too. Just as he did as an undergrad, he says he will try to do music and education, and has been reading about musicians who also trained to be physicians to figure out the balance. What he's learned: "You kind of make it work."
DuBois will study neuroscience with a focus on holistic aspects to healing, using such tools as yoga and accupuncture to alleviate chronic diseases.
DuBois takes the stage at 7 p.m. at Wooden Cask (629 York Street, Newport)
-Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Top photo: Zach DuBois (provided)