Way More Music with the Waymores
The Waymores are a trio of behind-the-curtain lyrical scientists.
Songwriters Tom Kimmel, Don Henry and Sally Barris have crafted many popular songs. Kimmel wrote “Shallow Water,” recorded by Randy Travis; Henry wrote “All Kinds of Kinds,” recorded by Miranda Lambert; Barris wrote “I’m On My Way,” recorded by Kellie Pickler.
In the sludge of cover bands and indie music, the Waymores’ pack voice is congregational and full of irony.
The Waymores will be performing at The Roosters Wife on Sunday, Dec. 2. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $13 and are available at theroosterswife.org.
In 2009, the three gathered to play a hasty show in Baton Rouge, La.
“We had all been friends, but had never played together,” Kimmel says. “We weren’t all that prepared, but we got an amazing response. It was like — ‘OK, we’re dating now.’”
Since that Baton Rouge show, the three have performed individual members’ songs and fused collaborations. Their favorites of both made their first and only album, “The Waymores,” songs recorded from 1998 to 2009 and released in March.
With their mix of folk, bluegrass and pop, the Waymores have been compared to the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, the Weavers and the Traveling Wilburys.
They all play acoustic guitar, with Henry and Kimmel trading off an electric guitar, and Henry sometimes picking up the mandolin.
Their character band name was one blurted out as an “offensive maneuver,” Kimmel says. Barris had scripted a page of 50-something band names like “the Wild Mountain Strawberries” so Kimmel suggested “the Waymores” “off the top of my head,” he says.
Also off the top of his head came the title to their signature song, “We Ain't Afraid of Work.”
When the three were in Florida looking for their venue, Kimmel accidentally turned onto a one-way street, driving in the wrong direction.
“A cop car was parked halfway down the street, but we just eased on by and they didn’t even see us,” Kimmel says. “I said that if he asked me what I was doing, I’d say, ‘We’re looking for work.’ He’d ask, ‘You’re looking for work?’ and I’d say, ‘Yes sir, we ain’t afraid of work.’”
The resulting song’s chorus is “I ain’t afraid of work, get my hands in the dirt, with my name on my shirt ’til my funny bone hurts. You know I ain’t afraid of work,” sung three times by each member of the band.
All of the blue collar jobs listed in the song — stock boy, chauffeur, blackjack dealer, burger flipper, soda jerk, plumber — have been held by the three along the way.
“We felt called to do what we’re doing,” Kimmel says. “There are probably a lot more sensible things that we could have done. But if we were to have given it up during tough times, I think we could have been betraying ourselves.”
Kimmel's business card reads “overnight success” as an facetious hat tip to his multiple odd jobs.
Since 1980, he has written songs for Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Cash and Joe Cocker; released seven albums; published a book of poems; and led songwriting workshops around the country and in Europe.
His exuberant spirituality and intoxication with poetry has filtered through songs like “Bigger Than the Both of Us.” The lyrics lead “You say our tears are holy water and every shadow leads to light. And if I shut you out in anger you say you’re not afraid to fight. You would not love me in a cage and you don’t measure love in promises and days.”
He says that his advice during workshops is to “do something creative every day if possible” and “give yourself permission to express yourself.”
Henry writes about Martin Luther King as a “beautiful fool,” seedy reality TV and interfaith marriages.
His songs have been recorded by Ray Charles, Jimmy Wayne and Blake Shelton.
His song “Where’ve You Been,” recorded by Kathy Mattea, won him and co-writer Jon Vezner a Grammy, song of the year honors from the Academy of Country Music, the Country Music Association and Nashville Songwriters Association International.
Originally from California, “Don said his college was moving to Nashville,” Kimmel says.
“Hearing Don play at the Bluebird Cafe reminds me why I do this and where the bar is set,” Kimmel says. “He has a very free spirit. He’s like a painter, and his songs are like a blank canvas that he can’t wait to get to.”
Barris, from Minneapolis-St. Paul, has written songs for artists such as Kathy Mattea, Martina McBride and Lee Ann Womack. She has crafted three albums and travels on her mountainy guitar and banjo to music festivals like New Bedford Summer Fest and the Kerrville Folk Festival.
“Sally’s force seems to be finding her own voice,” says Kimmel, who has known her for 20 years. “I barely noticed her when we first met. But that small shy person is really good. Of everybody I heard in the early ’90s, she developed most.”
Kimmel says the three want to give what they look for in music — “to be both entertained and moved.”
For more information, visit waymores.net.
Katherine Smith is a former Pilot intern and a student at Appalachian State University.
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