The Otsego product now based in Nashville has signed with Elektra Records, toured with Kaleo and Lucero, and aims to drop a new album in early 2023. The back story, video. He plays Tip Top Deluxe Friday.
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That Myron Elkins espouses a different take on the whole Nashville experience speaks directly to this buzzed-about singer and songwriter’s humble West Michigan upbringing and his refreshing musical frankness.
“I don’t like scripted things. I don’t like fake things,” Elkins insists.
So how does a no-nonsense kid from Otsego, population 3,980, not only get signed to Elektra Records, but end up recording his new songs with noted Nashville producer Dave Cobb, who’s worked with the likes of Chris Stapleton, John Prine, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson?
“It’s a lot like Forrest Gump,” Elkins suggests, while sitting in a booth at Grand Rapids’ Listening Room following a recent WYCE-FM “GR Live” performance and a week after releasing his latest single, “Hands to Myself.”
“I stumbled into the right places at the right time and shook the right hands. And they had all the soda you could drink, you know, and I’m just going to keep drinking it until they don’t want it anymore. There’s no formula.”
It’s also why Elkins, 22, feels more comfortable operating within the expansive Americana music scene rather than the country genre into which he initially ventured (sometimes even getting labeled as a Southern rock act) while boasting a vintage, mature-beyond-his-years drawl that turns heads.
“We loved country music and we were trying to be a country band and that kind of fell apart. But I think we found ourselves a little bit more,” he says, likening the vibe to the country-hued music of classic rock’s Creedence Clearwater Revival.
“It’s very country-influenced still … but it seems like Americana is kind of like this broad statement where everything’s about the song and I’m really about a song. I think Americana caters to that really well.”
FROM LIFE AS AN ALLEGAN COUNTY WELDER TO NASHVILLE RECORDING ARTIST
Welcome to one of the new faces of Americana music: a Martin High School grad from Allegan County who worked as a welder while crafting his songs – inspired by the likes of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Sturgill Simpson and Colter Wall – before moving to Nashville earlier this year.
Despite the move, Elkins insists there’s “this Midwest kind of thing that looms over me all the time” and he’s continued to perform regularly in Michigan. He plays Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids at 9 p.m. Friday (Oct. 28), with Citizen Keen opening. Tickets are $10; details here.
Elkins credits manager Josh Newman for pointing him in the right direction, adding that representatives from Elektra Records/Low Country Sound “have been so good to us. It’s really eye-opening, just to see what they can do for an artist.” Low Country Sound has released records by the like of Anderson East, Brandi Carlile, Rival Sons and The Highwomen.
Elkins hopes to release his first album under the new label early next year, tentatively titled, “Factories, Farms and Amphetamines.”
He calls it an “old-school album” – not a concept project or a political statement, but a collection of songs “that we thought were the best together” and recorded live in the studio.
“We’re excited for a lot of the songs on there, especially how some of them came out,” he says.
“I remember listening to the first song we cut, and we were listening to it in the car, and I was like, ‘Oh my God. Man, we sound like the people I love.’ This is so cool.”
Elkins and his current band – guitarists Caleb Stampfler and Avery Whitaker, bassist Nathan Johnson and drummer Jake Bartlett (who’s grandmother is the Greta Van Fleet for whom the Frankenmuth rock band is named) – have toured the country the past year, opening for major artists such as KALEO and Lucero.
Still, Elkins insists he’s more comfortable writing his rootsy gems than performing on stage.
“Playing in front of people scares me to death,” he says, though fans likely wouldn’t guess that by watching the singer in concert. “I don’t like being a frontman that much.”
For Elkins, it’s all about writing solid songs and weeding out compositions that simply don’t work.
“I’m more interested in if the song is good, it’s good. If not, let’s move on. It’s called ‘killin’ your darlings.’ You’ve got to learn how to kill your darlings. Because if you can’t do that, then you’re going to sit there and be your own biggest fan.”
But as he attracts a growing number of fans nationwide, Elkins also realizes he can earn a living for himself and his bandmates as a recording artist, touring musician and songwriter.
“I enjoy it because I know the alternative,” he says. “I’m really fortunate to be where I’m at.”
VIDEO: Myron Elkins, “Hands to Myself” (Live/Solo at Listening Room)
PHOTO GALLERY: Myron Elkins at Listening Room and The Intersection’s Stache
Photos by Jamie Geysbeek and Eric Stoike
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