Interview with Jamey Johnson’s manager, Arlis Albritton

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience.” “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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Middle Tennessee was devastated in May by flooding from which it will take many more months to recover. Please join the recovery effort by contacting Hands on Nashville at Hon.org or by calling (in Nashville) 211. Otherwise, please call 800-318-9355. You can also support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts by going to Salarmy-Nashville.org or calling 800-725-2769.  Thank you.
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Interview with Jamey Johnson’s manager, Arlis Albritton

by Dave Carew

Jamey Johnson and his manager, Arlis Albritton, must be doing something right. Here was the news story ripped across the headlines on December 1:

Multiple GRAMMY Nods for Jamey Johnson – – Nominations for the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards were announced on Wednesday, and Mercury Records recording artist Jamey Johnson has received three nods in the following categories:

* BEST COUNTRY ALBUM for The Guitar Song

* BEST COUNTRY MALE VOCAL PERFORMANCE for “Macon”

* BEST COUNTRY COLLABORATION WITH VOCALS for “Bad Angel” performed with Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert

In addition to managing his artist so capably, Arlis Albritton also is a gifted, in-demand songwriter whose “Good Morning Sunrise” (which he also produced) is one of the stand-out tracks on Jamey Johnson’s Grammy-nominated album. Arlis writes songs for Amylase Entertainment/Warner Chappell, where he has scored cuts with Diamond Rio, Keith Anderson, Julie Roberts, Randy Houser, and Josh Thompson.  During the past two weeks, the Arlis-penned “Won’t be Lonely Long,” recorded by Thompson, cracked the Billboard charts.  Arlis also has just released his own Jimmy-Buffett-vibe album, “All Washed Up,” now available on iTunes.

Underground Nashville interviewed Arlis Albritton last weekend about his amazing year and his Grammy-nominated artist.  Here’s how our conversation went:

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE:  As Jamey Johnson’s manager, you must, in part, help craft the public perception of Jamey as an artist.  If you had 30 seconds to tell someone what is MOST distinctive and important about him, what would you say?

ARLIS ALBRITTON: I’d say Jamey is most distinctive because he is himself.  As a songwriter he writes what he knows and lives what he writes.  He honors and truly respects everyone who makes music in all genres, but has the utmost respect for the country music legends and the history of country music.

UN:  Why do you think Jamey’s latest album, The Guitar Song, has garnered such critical praise and, now, three Grammy nominations?

AA: Honesty, I feel that in some cases an artist may write for radio and critics, only to lose focus on real life.  I think Jamey can’t write or sing about anything other than real-life situations.  I feel his peers respect him for that.  Also, for the most part, the band on the road with him is the band that records in the studio.  He lives with these guys year-round on the road, so when they go in to the studio I believe it reflects on the recordings.  There’s a comfort level you can’t find with strange musicians recording your life story in real time.

UN:  Tell us about your own new album.  Why did you create it, and how can people discover more about it and/or purchase it?

AA: I was born and raised in Florida near the Gulf Coast.  My family always hung out with fisherman, sailors, and salty folks like that.  I started out writing Jimmy Buffett-style songs before turning to country music.  When I was let go by my publisher after six years, I immediately gravitated to writing these type of songs again.  I was at a super low when it came to income and myself.  These are those songs written during that time.  It’s funny.  I am not a singer, but decided to sing on all these songs because I wrote them all by myself.  I made it for my parents, and to help restore my confidence as a writer.  I have had a lot of great response from it.  Jamey liked one of the songs enough to cut it on his new album The Guitar Song.  People who tend to love-story-type songs like Jimmy Buffett or Willie Nelson will dig this album.  You can find the album All Washed Up on iTunes.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and copywriter.

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