On the east side of a small Kentucky town called Screamin' Holler, between the railroad tracks and Route 7, there's a trailer park called Pine View Heights. It's a quiet little community where you can leave your door unlocked at night and walk down to the County Seat Grocery for a can of snuff, an RC Cola, and a couple of lottery tickets. Neighbors watch out for each other. Children play carelessly through the streets and culdesacs. And elderly people watch your every move, and talk about you at the Post Office. Emerging from this small town atmosphere are two young men named R.J. "Antsy" McClain and Stephen Foster Fleming III. (His friends call him "Flem" for short.) Antsy and Flem are third cousins twice removed, and grew up four trailers down from each other in Pine View Heights.
At a young age, the boys began to look at music as a way of unwinding at the end of a hectic day, relieving stress, and hopefully, impressing girls. From these humble beginnings, the boys have since taken their "folkabilly" music throughout the country, to appreciative, easy-to-please audiences. Now touring with a three-piece back-up outfit called The Sons of Hitches Band, they have expanded, giving their audiences the same old Troub sound, only louder. And....they even have their own Epiphone Signature model shaped like their beloved Airstream!.
Recently, Epiphone representatrive Will Jones had the opportunity to chat with founding Troubadours member and guitarist Flem.
EPI: How did you guys get started?
FLEM: Well, Antsy and I, (third cousins, twice removed) were just sitting around the kitchen table and started writing songs about life, life experiences, life around the trailer park and the next thing you know this whole Trailer Park Troubadours thing got happening.
EPI Your band name bids me to ask
are you guys fans of another legendary Epiphone player, Ernest Tubb the Texas Troubadour?
FLEM: Yes, we love those guys
the music pioneers who sang about life
our music is kinda folk, kinda country
songs about real experience
that's what Tubb's all about.
EPI: How did you personally get started on guitar?
FLEM: Back at the age of 10, I picked up an old classical in the back of my mom's trailer, found myself a Mel Bay book of chords and taught myself to play. Never had formal lessons, probably never will, I don't want to ruin a good mediocre player.
EPI: Tell me how the Airscreamer came to be.
FLEM: Our guitarist and co-manager Jimmy Jackson had a crazy idea
what if we had a guitar shaped like our Airstream trailer! We get more comments about that guitar than even my FlameKat.
EPI: So you have a FlameKat!
FLEM: Got two! I can't get enough of those Kats! I've got one of the first FlameKats off the line and I've also got a WildKat. I love the sound! It's a true semi-hollow body and the size, style and shape fits our personality. I've not found another guitar on the planet like it.
EPI: What have you not done that you'd like to do?
FLEM: TV, film, and eventually Vegas
we like to transport our folks to another world for two hours
forget about their bills, their worries and just be entertained.
EPI: Vegas! That's pretty tall thinkin'. Where else would you like to tour?
FLEM: All kinds of far away and exotic places like Montana and Wyoming!
EPI: In your Airstream?
FLEM: Yep. We travel in the Airstream everywhere we go. It's our home away from home at any given time. You just can't beat the glamorous life of a jaded rock star!!!
EPI: So was guitar you first choice as a musician, or did you lean more towards sousaphone?
FLEM: Actually sousaphone wasn't my first choice either, it was harpsichord. I always wanted to be a harpsichord star
but I just never made it that far
but the girls would have loved it.
EPI: have you ever had a "wardrobe malfunction?"
FLEM: Not yet
with the clothes we wear you just can't go wrong
heck, our fans dress up in polyester and plaid and upstage us, and we wear some really loud and proud attire.
EPI: finally, what advice would you give to the kids out there who want to get started on guitar?
FLEM: DON"T DO IT!!!.........You're better off being a Nintendo star!!!
For more information on the Trailer Park Troubadours, visit www.unhitched.com.