Bo Armstrong is a Dallas-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter who universalizes feelings many choose to bury. With conversational lyrics and a heartfelt voice, he offers a unique blend of grit and polish that can be heard in his Texas-bent, country-infused folk rock sound.
The five song EP "Where We Are" --produced by Brian Douglas Phillips (David Ramirez, Rob Baird, Thomas Csorba) in Austin, TX-- tells a tale of love lost, found, and upheld amid uncertainty. Phillips, an adept multi-instrumentalist, brings the rich storytelling to life with a delicate balance of nuanced keys and tasteful pedal steel.
For fans of: Ryan Bingham, Will Hoge, Ryan Adams, Radney Foster, Turnpike Troubadours
Before my sisters and I were born, my parents decided on a hunch to move to Texas. For most of my life I was led to believe that my dad's work prospects (he sells semiconducters, if you're into that sort of thing) led them south, but this past New Year's my dad offered up the truth while we spun Jerry Jeff Walker's "Viva Terilingua" on the record player. He held the album cover in his hands and said point blank, "this is the reason we moved to Texas." He pointed to the pictures of Luckenbach that lined the album notes and continued: "I swear to God, I just thought it looked cool, and I felt like I could make it work." Drawn by a sense of adventure, he and my mother left for Texas on not much more than a feeling --and I'm forever grateful that they did. When I first met Jack Ingram, a man I'm fortunate to call a mentor, I told him I was a "first generation Texan." He responded by saying I had to be the only person ever who was proud of that, and I laughed and told him I had to start somewhere. Through various stages in my life, my roots have become an increasingly important part of who I am.
When I was fifteen, luck, good fortune, and a healthy dose of hard work led me across the country to a boarding school in New England where I pursued one of my earliest passions, ice hockey. In Connecticut, I was a fish out of water. I won't pretend that I was raised wearing boots and a cowboy hat, but several of my new classmates didn't even own a pair of jeans. It was different, and far from all that was familiar, I picked up a guitar and began writing songs as a means of coping with the distance from my loved ones. Music became a bridge home. In my early teens, I was big on 90s alt-rock and loads of rap, but I spent my childhood with Springsteen, Lyle Lovett, and the Dixie Chicks. As a sixteen year old longing for home, I retreated to country music rooted in storyteller and folk traditions, and there I found some solace. At one point early in my first year away, my dad sent me a burned copy of Pat Green's "Three Days" (apologies for the piracy, Pat), and that CD became one of very few remedies to my homesick blues. I'd get swept away by a familiar sound that I knew was blaring in the car stereos of my friends back home. I was nearly 2,000 miles away, but music brought me the comfort I needed to keep my head up and carry on. I went on to make many lifelong friends in high school, but I've always held my Texas ties near and dear.
Homesickness and music aside, my ambition to play hockey at the most competitive level possible soldiered on, and after graduating high school (and taking a four month detour in Ireland...I'll tell y'all about that some other time), I went on to compete at the NCAA level in central New York. Four years after that, officially tapped on cold weather and Busch Light, I began looking forward to what was next. After graduation, I moved to the Mississippi Delta to teach elementary school in an underserved community for two years. In the throws of that challenging work, I struggled a great deal --perhaps more than I even realized at the time. Not long into my first year, I turned numb to the circumstances I encountered on a daily basis, and I had a hard time believing my efforts were having any sort of impact. Luckily, year two took a turn for the better. I grew more comfortable with where I was, started to get a grip on the classroom, and came to love the community I was a part of. I even found a little time for music. Now I look back on my time there as one of the most profound experiences I'll never get to have again.
In a roundabout way, Mississippi helped me discover my true passion for storytelling. But another career, another city, and five more years passed before I would properly connect the dots and find my voice as a songwriter. Finally, after fighting the urge to pursue music for years, I grew frustrated enough in the workplace to convince my girlfriend-turned-fiance-turned-wife that we needed to move to Nashville --on little more than a hunch. Six months later, we packed up a Penske truck and left New York City.
So, this is where we are.
At the risk of great ridicule from friends (and strangers, I suppose), I think I'll end on an Emerson quote I read in high school that has stuck with me all these years: "The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency." Though it has not been without great stress and anxiety, I feel fortunate to have drifted in so many directions over the past decade. Through various experiences --as as a son and brother, a friend and foe, a boyfriend, fiancé, and husband, a college athlete (and sometimes jackass), an elementary school teacher, a video producer, and a hockey coach-- I've maintained a writer's consciousness and a storyteller's heart. I'm eager now to start piecing this all together by turning melodies into music and lyrics into songs.
Fortuna favet audaci.
//B.A, SEPTEMBER 2018