ASHLAND Being a professional musician is an accomplishment at any time in history, perhaps even moreso now, with COVID-19 stomping out many opportunities and the competition for shows tighter than ever.
At least one local man has found a way to stay involved.
Carter City native Shelby Lore, 27, said music was always a big part of his life.
“Growing up, I thought it was odd not to be into music. My whole family played,” he said, adding he started playing guitar when he was about 12 and his father played in many bands in the area. “My family would have these get-togethers and we’d all have guitars and we kind of just were ‘fall in where you can get in,’ and that’s how a learned to play with other musicians.”
The 27-year-old said he learned lyrics from his aunt’s songbook which contained classic rock, classic country and folk music. And while he knows chords, he mostly plays by ear. His style is a mixture.
“Southern rock and blues are my favorites, but I like it all,” he said. “My genre is a melting pot of all this stuff.”
He began by playing guitar for bands after he graduated from high school, working part-time jobs in between.
He said he and his band released an album, “No-Name Town,” before the pandemic hit. “It’s about where you come front, the struggles of going out and loving where you came from and the benefits you can get pretty much only from the area and also where your dreams can take you if you get out,” he said.
The band also has released two singles in the last few months, one of which was used in the movie “The Big Ugly,” which is titled “Damned Good Night.”
“My band and I got a scene near the beginning of the movie where were we playing on stage in the background,” he said. The other song, “Let’s All,” was released with the pandemic in mind and is what Lore calls an “anti-division” song.
Lore has been nominated for best guitarist, best original song and album of the year in the Appalachian Arts and Entertainment Awards, which is open to Appalacian artists and is presented by the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg. Winners will be announced in January and awards will be presented in March.
Lore has performed in the Paramount Arts Center when he entered a singing competition when he was a teenager, even though the competition was singing country music.
“I’m not specifically a country artist, but I wanted to be a part of this thing,” he said. “If I lose, I still win because I get to sing in front of people. I made it to the final round. It was supercool because it’s a beautiful theater and everything sounds good in there.”
Years later, his band would open for Chase Rice at the Paramount.
“When Holly (Canfield, theater director) asked me to play a show for the Paramount, the first thing I thought was John Prine played there, and I said, ‘Absolutely,” Lore said, noting Prine has been his greatest influence. Because of the pandemic, he said, the concert wasn’t on the main stage, but it remains a treasured experience.
“It was really neat to do something with the Paramount,” he said. “It’s Ashland’s Rupp Arena.”
Lore said he has no plans to go to Nashville, believing with internet access and the help of booking agents, he can accomplish his goals without the movie. Plus, he said he has a wondeful support system, including wife, Hilary, who has even worked with him on writing.
“I felt like Nashville might not be the right place to go,” he said. “When you go to a place called Music City and there are people homeless on the sidewalk who play great, that’s not a Music City I want to see,” he said.
What will happen in the world of music is up in the air because of the impact of COVID-19, Lore said.
“When it first hit, I was thinking it would all blow over and we could get back to life,” he said. “Now, we’re going on six or seven months, and I don’t think things in the music world will be he same.”
Besides, he has a lot of faith in the talent in the area.
“Eastern Kentucky is going to be just fine for up-and-coming musicians,” he said, noting he completed his newest album, due out during the first of 2021, in his studio at home, with mixing and mastering by Huntington native Noah Frazee. “I think right here is a fine spot to get your music heard.”
His focus now is on songwriting.
“I want to be a songwriter and want to sell songs and perform my songs and that is the avenue I want — making a living with my songs.,” he said.
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For more information or to hear the band’s music, look for Shelby Lore Music at Facebook, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Pandora and other music outlets. To vote for Lore for the categories in which he’s nominated for an Appalachian Arts and Entertainment Awards, visit appalachianartsandentertainmentawards.com.