By Traci Bridges for Playlist Magazine
It’s been a while since we last visited with local honky-tonk balladeer James Scott Bullard of Mullins, but these days, you can’t let too much time pass with this one.
Things are happening for Bullard – and happening FAST.
“Yeah, life is a bit of a whirlwind these days,” Bullard said, chuckling. “I get up and check my email and see my name on new release lists beside names like Willie Nelson and Cody Jinks. And I honestly still can’t wrap my head around it. I really keep expecting someone to tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘Um, sir, you’re not supposed to be here.’”
And where exactly is here? Well, that would be on those national charts as well as in green rooms at venues across the United States. Bullard recently did a tour of the Midwest with shows from Tennessee to Nebraska, and he’s gearing up for another stint on the road in support of his latest release, “Full Tilt Boogie” – this time to Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma with a number of stops along the way.
“That’s been surreal, too,” Bullard said. “To go out and have people all the way out in Nebraska come up after a show to get things signed and tell me how much they love my music, I mean, wow. It doesn’t get any better than that. The Midwest is a lot like the South. They love their country music, so even though I was thousands of miles away, it kinda instantly felt like a second home.”
Though the national fame is a bit of a new thing for Bullard, the Mullins native is no stranger to the music business. He’s been writing and playing for more years than he can remember. It started with a hard rock band by the name of Crane, followed by several reincarnations along the way to the present.
“I think it really boils down to timing,” Bullard said. “Timing and the fact that my manager, Missy Davis-Jones, has assembled what I like to call the Justice League of country music as my support. I couldn’t have done this by myself. And I always say this, but it’s true: Had it happened when I was younger, I’d be dead by now.”
Today’s James Scott Bullard is definitely a different guy and artist. He attributes the changes to a little maturity and a whole lot of accepting himself for who he really is.
“I think for a lot of years, with my writing, I was kinda the brokenhearted cowboy. It’s cliché, and it’s been done a whole lot by a whole lot of different people,” Bullard said. “You know how there’s the villain with the dark hat and mustache in all the cartoons? Well, I’m finally taking a little ownership in that. Maybe, you know, I haven’t been the victim or deserted cowboy in my situations. Maybe I’m that bad guy, and in my writing and music, I’m owning that now.”
Bullard also attributes the magic of “Full Tilt Boogie” to the studio band that helped him make it — local musicians Jeff Springs, Kevin Singleton, Mike Knight and Justin Banks. He said each brought a special something to the album, something he says he never could have accomplished on his own.
“People hear it and compare different parts to bands like the Allman Brothers. Well, that wasn’t me. That was Jeff and Justin taking their parts to those special places. Mike and Kevin did the same and when I hear the album, sometimes I can’t even believe it’s me,” Bullard said. “And it’s not just me. This album is just as much theirs. And I may be a little biased, but I think what we came up with is really something special.”
For more information on James Scott Bullard, including tour dates and how to purchase “Full Tilt Boogie,” visit jamesscottbullard.com or facebook.com/jamesscottbullard.
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH JAMES SCOTT BULLARD
Q. What song instantly puts you in a good mood?
A. Anything by W.A.S.P. I’m such a sucker for spandex and sawblades.
Q. If you could meet any musician, living or dead, who would it be?
A. That’s a tough one, but I’m gonna go Tom Waits.
Q. What would be your ‘go-to’ karaoke song?
A. Christopher Cross. I’d sing the crap out of some ‘Sailing.’”
Q. What was your first live concert?
A. Whitesnake with Bad English at the Carolina Coliseum in Columbia. I think I was maybe 16.
Q. What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
A. Yacht rock. I know people won’t believe it, but it’s true. Kenny Loggins, Christopher Cross, Little River Band. … I love what these guys do!