Country Added Helpful Ingredient to Tippy Canoe’s Influence Stew

By Tippy Canoe

Growing up in suburban Maryland our house was constantly filled with music: Pop, R&B, Stadium Rock and a great heaping spoonful of Country and Bluegrass. I soaked it all in and although I wouldn’t admit it at the time, because it was something my parents were into; I really liked a lot of the hillbilly music.

As I headed into my teenage years the standard scheduled rebellious phase set in and my nails, lips, and hair miraculously turned black; the switch for melodrama was flicked on and I fell in love with the sounds blasted by my local college radio station.

This coincided with my parents’ divorce and my Mother’s new friendship with a group of folks who lived “up the country.”
“Up the country” was the northern part of Harford County. It was an area that I adored as a kid, because its rural roads meant that even if a solitary snowflake fluttered to the ground it would be a day off for the entire county even though our southern section often only got a quick “hello and how do you do” from Mother Nature. I loved our “better play it safe for the northern half” School Superintendent.

But as a teen going “up the country” meant hours spent wandering the dusty fairgrounds trying to drown out the ear-splitting roar of the tractor pulls with direct headphone submersion of Depeche Mode. “Why am I surrounded by non-ironic trucker hats? Why am I actually bored to death, instead of hanging out in a London nightclub just pretending to be bored to death?”

The other half of my time spent there was hanging with my buddies: the cows. They became my dear friends. Those big brown eyes full of sympathy for why no one understood me (and of course never would). Their certain appreciation of my impressive command of a Cocteau Twins song, which was sung over and over to them until even the flies buzzed ethereally, gave me the confidence to step further into music. The hours spent in the fresh country air were wonderful with these congenial sidekicks.

Fast forward 25-years and I can clearly see the symmetry in an invigorating walk through an empty field and the rush of a clever synth line topped with a distorted guitar. It’s sensory stimulation, whichever way it’s packaged. The stew of influences that contributed to my musical education are still with me and I feel as comfortable in a dark nightclub under a black light as I do under a tree at an outdoor festival in the dappled sunlight. The affect of both Patsy Cline and Siouxsie Sioux, like an unlikely duet on an awards show, lives on in me forever.

This post was submitted by Tippy Canoe.

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