Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by C.k. Koch
For over 20 years, Daniel Hutchens has been leading the cult favorite Athens, Ga., band Bloodkin, doing that hard-living, hard-drinking, Southern gothic rock and roll that we associate with the devil, a forked tongue, some crossroads and almost without hesitation, the Drive-By Truckers. Hutchens and crew have been cultivating the song stories of the deep south - those of men and women in different stages of debilitation, addiction, poverty and revenge - almost twice as long as Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have been with the Truckers, but it's all just heritage, when it all comes out in the wash. It's as much a sound of the soil and the hot summer nights of Muscle Shoals, the secret ingredients associated with the fermentation of the moonshine made there as it is any kind of crib sheet. It is left in the water down there, chugged and swallowed. It's in the blood down there in Georgia, this fascination with both the roaring guitar rock and roll Skynyrd, the soulful deliberations of turn of the century blues, 50s soul and the wit and wisdom of Hank Williams. Bloodkin is of that legacy of Southern rock bands that take us into the broken homes of people almost too poor to live - almost too poor to love each other the way they deserve to be loved. There are always strains on the characters in Bloodkin songs, just as there are always colossal strains on everyone in Drive-By Truckers songs. It's a common bond that has nothing to do with influence. It's just the way it is below and through that Bible belt, where there's a middling belief in a higher power even when things look contrary. Hutchens sings about blood-red tears falling from eyes on solitary nights, driving home alone and listening to gospel radio on the slow-burning "September Midnight," calling to mind a majestic, starry sky and a doubting soul behind the wheel, strewn with questions and echoes. These songs pass the bottle of Jack back and forth, in the kind of community sort of way that you'd find at a party held amongst all friends. They feel completely comfortable in their sad luck accounts of fumbling through desperate times and desperate measures. The sorts of men that Hutchens enjoys writing about most are those who share a sunken-ness, who have long ago say a big, "FUCK IT," toward the heavens and just gone about their business without getting too bent out of shape about moral consequences or any kind of stumping, stilting social norms. The kinds of men that we find most often in Bloodkin songs are guys like the one in "Henry Parsons Died," described this way: "Every time he tried to drink holy wine, spilled it all down his shirt in shame." They cannot win and it's not anything new for them to hear that. They don't go on rampages, they just pick up that 12-pack at the convenience store on the way home from the job, every day at five o'clock, and well before primetime programming has moved into evening news territory, they've forgotten most of what was so hard on them for much of the day. They've found a way to move on and it usually means a strong breath and some stumbling. It's the way to medication and it's what the men of Bloodkin know to work best and fastest.
Bloodkin Official Site
SCI Fidelity Records