Interview with Greg Duckworth from the group Taylor Made
©2011 By Bronson Herrmuth
You can listen to this entire 20 minute interview: Part 1 of 3 (2.6 MB) mp3 Part 2 of 3 (2.8 MB) mp3 Part 3 of 3 (2.1 MB) mp3
Bronson: Are you married?
Greg Duckworth: I am married.
Bronson: You have kids?
Greg Duckworth: I have a 14 year old and an 8 year old, both girls.
Bronson: Both girls. What are their names?
Greg Duckworth: Erin and Brianna are the girls and my wife's name is Rhonda.
Bronson: So that's probably the hardest part when you go out and tour isn't it?
Greg Duckworth: It's taxing sometimes being away so much, yeah.
Bronson: You come from a family with seven siblings. Your mother raised you all as a single mother.
Greg Duckworth: She did.
Bronson: From day one you've been singing and playing.
Greg Duckworth: Yeah.
Bronson: Your kids then have been around it their whole life.
Greg Duckworth: And they're both performers and singers too so the apple don't fall far from the tree as they say.
Bronson: Really? Tell me a little bit about that.
Greg Duckworth: Well Briana, the 14 year old, she's real busy with West Virginia theater and her passion is she's involved with the youth ministry at our church back home so she does a lot with her acoustic guitar and the youth ministry and she leads some of the worship services, she just loves to perform. The smaller one, the 8 year old, she's kinda following in that track. She's still looking for what she's brave enough to do in the privacy of our living room, then what she'll do for people in public, so she's a little more shy then the other.
Bronson: Have you had them up on the stage?
Greg Duckworth: I had Brianna up when she was about 6. She got up and sang "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" with us one night, it was really cool. It went real well.
Bronson: Your occupation is state trooper, right?
Greg Duckworth: Yes, I've been a West Virginia state trooper for several years now. (Authors Note) Greg was inspired to pursue law enforcement when his brother, Dennis Duckworth, was killed tragically at the age of 21. Greg and his family felt the investigation wasn't handled properly and that horrible experience was the main reason Greg decided to become a State Trooper.
Bronson: So how does that work for you? You are a state trooper and then at night you're up on stage performing.
Greg Duckworth: Yeah, I tell you it gets really busy. Those two genres don't cross very much (laughing). I'm a Sargent with the state police and I've been in charge of the 2nd to 3rd busiest detachment in the state for about 12 years up there. It's a busy time, of course business is always good in the police world and keeping those things rolling, between the family, 2 kids in school, the state police and the band, Taylor Made, I get spread pretty thin some days.
Bronson: Do you have to put yourself in a different state of mind when it comes time to play music?
Greg Duckworth: It's very natural to me and who I am, is that trooper. I was a 21 year old kid, fresh out of the academy and working in one of the roughest counties in the state. Down right in the heart of the coal fields in West Virginia. I was a pretty naive 21 year old kid taken from a quiet place in Taylor county and put in the middle of the blood, the guts, the beer, of the coal fields so I learned a lot quick. My moulding come there from a young age too. I like being known as the guy that's going to do the right thing. I take pride in that. I take a lot of pride in the state police and what's that done for me and my family and the reputation I have back home is pretty solid.
Bronson: So if your children do decide that they want to pursue music as a career, you are cool with that?
Greg Duckworth: I am. I want them to reach as far and in as many different directions that they can and find that place that's happy for them. I'll be supportive of that.
Bronson: So do you envision writing songs with them? Playing and performing with them?
Greg Duckworth: I tell you it's a lot of fun. Wendy and Brian, they both sing and perform with their kids same as I do. Mom did it with us as kids. You know I've been up in front of the church before with both girls singing with me and it's a happy place to be. Music really don't know the boundaries, music kind of draws people together and it sure has us.
Bronson: Is that your major goal? To eventually just record and tour or do you always intend on having both?
Greg Duckworth: I intend on having both. I guess I'm one of those guys that wants my cake and eat it too. I don't have the goal of of any one thing there being leaps and bounds above the other. I've been a trooper for 21 years and I can reach a retirement in about 3. I'm pretty comfortable there and I'm on a promotion list, actually I'm like number one on the promotion list and hoping for a promotion within the next year and I'm reaching for that. I'm reaching for a single to make it to the charts and make an impact. I want positive light on West Virginia. That's where I live. You know they always say home is where your mom is. Our moms in Taylor County, West Virginia. I want positive things for that. I work hard as a trooper to make it a better place and I hope that our music can shine great light to that as well.
Bronson: So obviously your department, they understand that you do the music, right?
Greg Duckworth: They do. They're very supportive, very understanding of that. The Governor, Joe Manchin who recently was elected to the U.S. Senate in place of Robert C. Byrd - who was the oldest sitting member - He was very supportive and we had talked several times when he was Governor and then since he's been U.S. Senator, he's very supportive. Of course we're all on the same page on what shines a positive light on the state of West Virginia, that's the bond that we share. Colonel Jay Smithers up there is very supportive of the group as well as Earl Ray Tomblin who is the current Governor who has an election coming up this fall and everyones on the same page and it works because everyone shares that common goal.
Bronson: When you're on the road, do you ever take the kids out with you?
Greg Duckworth: They do some. They don't like it as much, they hear these songs all the time so they're not so into the show as they are the fair or festival that we're playing (laughing). We don't have them in our captive audience, we have them out getting cotton candy and riding the rides. They do, they go to some of them and they have a lot of fun. They're both very busy with their own schedules. Briana, the youth group is a pretty large youth group and very successful at the church and she's very active, and she's very active in West Virginia Theater and she's been cast in some of the outdoor drama stuff that the West Virginia Theater does. She's got rehearsals all summer and shows coming up in August. Their real busy with their own schedules and my wife teaches school at an elementary school and she's very active in the church as well. So we all have our own busy schedules but we all tend to bring it together when it needs to too.
Bronson: Your families is so musical. Everyone in it.
Greg Duckworth: Thank you. Christmas time and Thanksgiving is always fun (laughing).
Bronson: I bet. So you all get together and sing and play and do the carols?
Greg Duckworth: Get back up on the old back porch with the guitar or something'.
Bronson: So you're actually keeping up how you were raised, out on the back porch with your mom.
Greg Duckworth: Certainly do.
Bronson: That's awesome. So she sits there and oversee's it all?
Greg Duckworth: Yeah, and she scolds us if we hit a sour note sometimes too (laughing). I'll tell you a real funny thing. We played a couple weeks ago at an amphitheater in Pipestem, it's a state park in West Virginia. At the end of the night we just rolled the motor home into the campground and we spent the night at the campground after the show. The kids were with me and we had a fire going out there and the 14 year old ran in, without being coached, she just wanted a guitar in her hands. So there we are sitting around the fire in the campground, she's playing guitar and we're singing songs. What a great common bond that everyone in the world has is music. If you can bring that to your family, that's just a bonus. We grew up with it, we don't know anything else.
Bronson: Have you written any music that has to do with being a trooper, being a law enforcement officer?
Greg Duckworth: We done a demo for a song, actually, a guy who was associated with the National Auto Theft Bureau, wrote a song back in 1972 called "The Green Of West Virginia". Now the history there is, during the coal strikes there was a lot of killings and murders going on. During the coal strikes in the early 1900's, so in 1919 to be a state trooper - that's when it was formed and the Governor made a proclamation - anyway, to be a state trooper you had to be a certain height and weight, and you had to be a WWI veteran and you showed up at work with your WWI uniform. Because of that our colors are forest green. Our uniform, the campaign hat, like the WWI veterans so that's the history of the state police. With that, the West Virginia Green was about a guy who grows up wanting to be a trooper and he dies in the line of duty with his West Virginia green being the uniform. Well this was written in '72 by some troopers, a lot of old school stuff there. We've done a remix of that song. We recorded it ourselves in a demo session and they ended up adding it to the academy and when the cadets are marching in that song plays at the State Police Academy. That's the only thing I've ever done with law enforcement, is that old song we redone some and made uptempo. We took it off a cassette tape and put it on a CD (laughing).
Bronson: I would think there would be a lot of subject matter, content, around that whole life. Being an officer.
Greg Duckworth: I've seen a lot of sad. You see people at their worst. Everything from drug dealers to murderers to children killed in car wrecks. You know the places that policemen go are unlike places any one else can go and you got to find ways to get away from that in your mind. When someones afraid they call a policeman and he has to go into that dark room after who ever the bad guy is. The toughest thing for me was dealing with parents who had just lost a small child. At the time I was a young trooper when some of that first happened to me and I thought that I understood but until I became a parent I really didn't and I realized I really didn't understand that parent losing their child. That's the worst to me, those cases over the years, but moving yourself in and out of that is a tough place to be some days. The single mom song ("Quiet Kind Of Crazy"), "Good Love", up tempo, "Heavy Duty Beauty". It's nice to have a place to go outside of that I guess is what I'm trying to say. The music kinda takes me away from some of that sometimes.
Bronson: That's like a release for you?
Greg Duckworth: It is, they're not related.
Bronson: It really has nothing to do with the other.
Greg Duckworth: Yeah, you're absolutely right. It don't have anything to do with each other.
Bronson: Really it's almost night and day, the two different lifestyles.
Greg Duckworth: Yes it is.
Bronson: Anything coming up you want to make sure people to know about? You have this new record.
Greg Duckworth: This new record, "Good Love", it's Appalachian West Virginia meets pop guitar, pop Nashville. It's a really unique sound. It's dobros and banjos on the top and rock n' roll riffs, a lot of the bass, drums, guitar on the bottom. It's a new sound for us, it just came very easy and very natural and I can't wait to get this thing out in the next few weeks and get people to hear it and see what they think.
Bronson: You've actually been doing a lot of radio interviews promoting your last record.
Greg Duckworth: We did a radio tour that went real well for us. We left Nashville and we did 13 radio stations in 4 days. We went straight through Tuscaloosa to Biloxi, Mississippi. There's some great radio stations down there, made some very good friends, people we're keeping in touch with. Four days after we were back home that's when that major tornado come through there and it pretty much was on the path that our bus was on. Those people down their just took a hit and then the floods came right after that and our heart goes out to those folks. They took a hard lick this year in weather out there. We did NashVegas which was a produced by Sharla McCoy. That was a radio tour we did in Las Vegas during the ACM Awards. Yeah, lots of radio stations playing us and calling us and it's very flattering to have them wanting us on their shows.
Bronson: And yesterday you did a photo shoot?
Greg Duckworth: Yeah we needed some fresh pictures for this new single. I think we got what we needed yesterday We put Brian in a Armani shirt which was unbelievable to me (laughing). He took off his truckers ball cap and put on an old man's hat.
He's always wore the big buckle, the cowboy boots and the cowboy hat, the truckers hat. So the shoot went a different direction then what we've been taking so everything's new and fresh and it's exciting to us.
Bronson: Do you have a title for the album yet?
Greg Duckworth: I can tell you it's gonna be a six pack, they'll be six songs on it. No, we don't have a title. The single off of it's gonna be called, "Good Love". Now whether that's the title I don't know, we haven't got that far. There is a gospel song that may be on there, it hasn't been decided yet. I wrote a song called "Five More Steps". The beauty of the song is I'm not typically the writer. Brian and Wendy do most of the writing of the 3 us so that I wrote a song speaks volumes 'cause I don't write well, but I wrote this song and what I was going for was a Jesus story in first person. I've never heard it written that way so the song is about Jesus carrying the cross and he is speaking in the song - Five more steps with this old rugged cross - he's carrying it to the top of the hill. That song really fell into place and we're hoping it's going to be on there. It's a really nice story.
Bronson: Your next touring? What's the next show that's coming up?
Greg Duckworth: Our next thing coming up this weekend is for the West Virginia Arts Association up in Beckley, West Virginia. We did a show this past weekend with Dierks Bentley, Montgomery Gentry, Easton Corbin, Justin Moore, and Craig Morgan. We did a show with them up there. That went really well, it sold out, about 3,000 people.
Bronson: That was Bluefield right?
Greg Duckworth: It was. So then our next one will be there in Beckley. We got some fairs and festivals on through the fall mostly up in that region.
Bronson: Well I wish you all the best of luck in the world. You've got a great group and you're really rockin'.
Greg Duckworth: Thank you.
Bronson: I was in the studio a little while ago and I got to hear a little bit of this record and it's gonna be special.
Greg Duckworth: Thank you, we're hopin' and prayin'.
Bronson: I appreciate you doing this.
Greg Duckworth: Thank you very much.
(Authors Note) You can read the story I wrote about Greg Duckworth after we did this interview.
You can visit Taylor Made on line at www.taylormadecountry.com
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