Performing the blues

Just eight credit hours short of graduating from the University, Stacy Mitchhart left town. In 1982, he escaped Ohio with the education he needed to eventually become a Grammy-nominated recording artist, regardless of the pesky foreign language credits holding him back from the world. Over 25 years later, Mitchhart and his six-piece band are returning to Bowling Green to give people his own concoction of blues that won him ‘Blues Entertainer of the Year’ from the Music City Blues Society. But after countless shows and plenty of awards, he still remembers folksy vignettes about his time in Bowling Green. When he lived in the dorms the campus residences were without water for four days and he and another girl went down to the basement of the building to wash their hair with the last few drops left in the pipes of a rarely-used sink he found in desperation. Now he spends most of his days in Nashville and speaks with a slight southern twang suggesting a slower pace – the opposite of Mitchhart’s show business world. ‘Basically your tour is never ending and virtually every weekend,’ he said. Playing 250-280 shows a year lends itself to an obvious life on the road, but Mitchhart and his band are a clan of mythical creatures that actually like the profession they picked for themselves. ‘Our performance is a show,’ he said. ‘We interact really heavily with the audience and I’ve done it long enough where it makes sense.’ As a full-time musician, Mitchhart relied on what he learned while he was in college. Networking, marketing and organization helped him and his band continue to flicker while similar acts may have burned out years ago. ‘I knew what I wanted to do and had a small business mind set,’ he said. Maybe meaning that he pays a little attention to style and panache on the side. Sometimes in zoot suits with pinstripes, complete with a matching hat, Mitchhart looks like he’s just having a jubilant jam session while wailing on his guitar. He may be middle-aged, but his attitude has remained untouched, like he just left Ohio to pursue music two weeks ago. ‘It’s almost like we get to hang out with out buddies for three days a week and then come home. For the first time in my career, I’ve been the oldest guy in the band,’ he said. And being well-known in the blues circuit, even while releasing nine CDs and one documentary DVD keeps him under the radar. All six members-playing bass, guitar, keyboard, saxophone and trumpet will bring their act to a raucous college town at the Cla-Zel April 9 for ‘a funk vibe, a rock vibe’ with original and cover songs. One of the most prominent memories of Bowling Green for Mitchhart is a reality that every day residents grown about daily, ‘It was cold and flat,’ Mitchhart said. And nobody can argue with that.