[Music] Dead-ends and Transits

Goodman County is a place where the road had fallen in Goodman, a town near Lexington, Miss. In a place generally occupied by hunting and drugs, this fallen place in the road was a place for poets, writers and musicians to congregate. One night, a student who was out of his skull looked up to the sky and said, "I love being in Goodman County." The others all looked at him and said, "Goodman isn't a county." Like a scene out of a movie, he picked up the gravel beneath him and let it run through his fingers. "I love being in Goodman County," he yelled.

Cody Cox, lead singer of the local band goodmanCOUNTY told this story looking to the sky. Jackson has a wealth of artists, he says, but in Lexington that break in the road harbored the small creative class.

"We are just a bunch of country boys making some rock 'n' roll, that's all," said band member Ryan Baucum. Even without goodmanCOUNTY's apparent talent and drive to produce music, if nothing else, they are true—in their lyrics, in their rhythms and in their influences.

Cox, an English literature teacher at Hillcrest Christian School, had hair in his eyes, plaid sleeves rolled up, when I met him and bandmate Baucum. Considerably smaller, Baucum was wearing a white undershirt, his long hair falling behind his shoulders. They didn't look like rock stars.

Mixed and produced at the band's mentor and Buffalo Nickel band member Steve Deaton's Plowhandle Records, goodmanCOUNTY's new album, "dead-ends and transits," is a vast departure from their first venture "pictures from a moving vehicle." With Micah Helmintoller taking over the drums, the new album flows like beer on a warm night, with the loud, melodious crash of bottles every few songs bringing the listener out of a soulful withdrawal and ending with a series of songs that seem to leave you with the heart of a band just trying to make some rock 'n' roll, a band that is true.

Cox, David O'Gwynn and Baucum are all adept multi-instrumentalists, picking up instruments as diverse as organ, harmonica, guitars, bass, cello, Fender Rhodes, lap steel and tape recorder. Hemintoller keeps the rhythm with his studied and enthralling drumming. Cox describes him as the only person he knows who can listen to an entire album, despite terrible lyrics or melodies, solely for the drumming. This four-piece band meshes influences like Johnny Cash, U2, Neil Young, Buffalo Nickel and King Crimson to form an unclassifiable sound.

This time around, the band has survived geographical distances, pulled many all-nighters in order to play shows the next day, developed their styles and are no longer viewing pictures going by. They stand still together producing a mature and unified album. Their release party will be Saturday, Jan. 15, at Hal & Mal's Red Room.

Come to experience something real that has survived dead-ends and transitioned into a bold collaboration of souls drenched in sweat built to enthrall the most remote listener. Goodman County has since been paved over, but this band is carrying the legacy of a creative pulse, beating vibrant and strong from the short stories and heartbreaks within the walls of both rural and urban Mississippi.


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