Jonathan Birchfield doesn’t have to listen hard to hear the highway call. His daddy made it easy for him. In the early garage bands days he packed amps and guitars and teenagers in the back of a 72 El Camino and toted them to play parties and prom nights. Today, Birchfield throws a change of socks, a journal, a Mac, and a book or two in a back pack and writes songs in cemeteries and KOA campgrounds; twice losing the 1959 Gibson he named Chess. Like all great women, she lets him know where to find her. He writes of Carolina roads and blue dresses and cheeseburgers all the way. He looks for, and finds, the inspiration that fed the greats, singer/songwriters named Jackson and James, and tunes into Pandora, streaming outlaw country tunes. And, once a year, he brings stardust to Catawba County, the chance to get back to the land and let a soul free. Sodstock, a one day music festival near Maiden on the four hundred acre sod farm of Dave McCart was an idea born of beer and brilliance. McCart and longtime Birchfield friend, Tim Yount, printed the t-shirts, invited the bands, and rented the Port-a-Johns to welcome six hundred concert go-ers through the gates at the first Sodstock featuring Birchfield. Having grown to include camping and food vendors, this year’s event, September 29th, will give listeners the chance to hear Birchfield’s original music, songs of love, half crazy and constant, and, as always, the dust of the road.
Promoters and bar owners like Birchfield. He takes care of his audience, holds a crowd. Folks who come to drink, stay to listen. Jonathan Birchfield is a throwback to the days when music made us feel. His song list includes the lyrics that are part and parcel of the songbook in our memories, of flatbed fords and American girls as he swears, by God and guitar, his aim is true. And, he nails them. If kicking off Born to Run makes diehard fans cringe with sure as the world certainty he won’t do it justice, it also brings them to their feet when he steps away from the microphone having convinced them he loved Wendy with all the madness in his soul. “I have to wear the songs I sing.”, said Birchfield. “I need to be able to put them on and walk around in them.” So, he wears sweet homes and blue skies and always, always there are the songs of a gypsy soul, of headlights and wind and rain, of Southbound trains and the midnight hour while the house hangs on and waits for his next word, his next note, looking in their own rear view mirror, remembering or wishing for their own days of freedom behind the wheel and women who left them praying for forgiveness. “You give it all up. You cash it all in. Say goodbye to your peace of mind. Throw caution to the wind, just enjoy the ride.”
Written by: Shari Smith