Thirty Miles from Nashville
Country boy moves to the big city to play music and realizes he can build a tour bus almost as large as his factory loft apartment. Country boy moves back to the country to build a bus... Since becoming a full-time musician in 2001, Chris Merkley has played in the streets and clubs of over a dozen different countries, throughout the course of four European and six American tours. He has played to traffic-stopping crowds on the sidewalks of Paris with his band, The Crooners, as well as to packed, sweaty audiences in the cavernous basements of Prague clubs. In 2005, Merkley left his roots in central New York and moved to Brooklyn to continue his pursuits with The Crooners. Not one for the cement and smog of life in the city, he soon found himself considering alternate approaches to being an independent musician. "I kept drawing sketches of a tour bus, with all the amenities of a home and recording studio, and just couldn't let go of the notion that I could build something like that to facilitate my music career and improve life on the road at the same time." Merkley recalls, "I also wanted to make it more environmentally responsible so I started researching vegetable oil conversions and alternate forms of energy production. I figured I could wrap all the aspects of my daily life into a vehicle that served me and the environment at the same time." So, with no one to deny him that but himself, he began researching the idea of a bus conversion more seriously and decided a retired school bus would be best suited for the project. After a year of searching online, he found the bus he was looking for in the hills of Kentucky and moved back to central New York to begin construction. The process has been slow, but Merkley sees no reason to rush things. He states, "I want to do it right, and incorporate as many of the ideas as possible, so I'm researching each step along the way and working on the construction in between recording albums and touring." In addition to working on the bus and playing over 100 shows in 2008, Merkley composed five pieces of music for HBO's critically acclaimed series, 'Generation Kill', and made several trips from New York to Tennessee to record his first full-length solo studio album, entitled 'Thirty Miles from Nashville'. Drawing from influences such as Little Walter, Robert Johnson, Led Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers and more modern groups like the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Merkley blends numerous incarnations of the blues as it has evolved through the decades. With the combination of acoustic and electric guitars, harmonica, stomping feet and baritone vocals, he carves his style between the generations of blues, folk, and rock music. All those styles and influences are on display in 'Thirty Miles from Nashville', a collection of ten acoustic and electric songs.