Bedhed & Blondy and The Sleepwalkers

Bedhed & Blondy and The Sleepwalkers

I recently conducted an interview with Jay Studdard (Bedhed), Fran Jackson (Blondy) and Austin Skinner (guitarist/vocalist in The Sleepwalkers).

Q: Well, I’ve got to say that the two of you sound so great when you sing together. Alone you are both strong vocalists but when you harmonize it goes to another level. How did you two get together?

STUDDARD: Well, it was a total fluke the way it happened. We had both just started playing writer’s nights around Nashville. I’m not the best lead player but I can kind of do some simple stuff–and Fran asked me to play one night and that’s sort of how we just ended up together. I mean, here in Nashville you get paired up with two or three other people all the time to do what they call writer’s rounds, and we just happened to end up on stage with Austin one night. We really pursued him after we decided we wanted to try and find a guitar player to do some more intricate lead work. We just believe that he has the exact sound we need for the kind of stuff we’re writing.

Q: Yeah, I agree. You’ve got some good chops there, too, Austin, there’s no doubt about that!

SKINNER: Thank you, I appreciate that–it means a lot.

Q: Now Jay, could you talk a bit about putting The Sleepwalkers together?

STUDDARD: Well, Fran and I put Bedhed & Blondy together last year. That was…?

JACKSON: It was in February of 2010. We decided on the name Bedhed & Blondy …we thought it sounded kind of funny. Shortly after that we became Bedhed & Blondy from then on.

STUDDARD: Fran wanted a band–wanted a band bad–and I was a little bit hesitant because I had been in bands before and you know what a headache they can be. But we went out in search of a guitar player and once we heard Austin, Fran knew he was the guy even though we hadn’t played with him steady. And Billy, the percussionist, I had already been playing with him even before I ever met Fran. So at that point, we had everybody but a bass player, and then a friend of mine hooked us up with Dave {Mohr}. By May or June of 2010, bam, we just put these guys together–had a few practices–and started playing as Bedhed & Blondy and The Sleepwalkers.

Q: In one of the e-mails you sent up to me, you mentioned that you had even more material together for another album.

STUDDARD: Oh, man, we’ve recorded two albums, got material for a third album written, and maybe even a fourth!

Q: Well, when you two start singing together–you and Fran–it’s just something special: the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, you know what I mean?

STUDDARD: I do, I believe it.

JACKSON: Somehow our voices blend in a good way. I naturally hear parts that I can sing when I hear a song of Jay’s; and Austin sings as well, so sometimes I take the high, sometimes the middle and even sometimes the low harmony.

SKINNER: Yeah, it becomes logistical at that point. We have to kind of decide who is going to be where–it becomes a question of what sounds good but it usually happens very, very naturally and pretty organically.

Q: Just out of curiosity, how would you describe what you’re doing, musically-speaking?

JACKSON: I think it’s a mix of the Memphis sound and the Nashville sound.

Q: Yes, I can hear that, as well. Is there anything you’d like me to pass on to the readers of this interview?

JACKSON: I think one thing I want people to know is that as excited as people are to hear our sound, we’re just as excited as it unfolds for us! It’s like a surprise every day and we’re as excited about our music and how it’s evolving as other people seem to be.

STUDDARD: We’re gonna try to do a Southeastern tour this summer…that would be one goal. We are going to go to The International Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis in February; but besides that, we’re gonna play until we can’t play anymore and sell as many albums as we possibly can! (Laughter from all)

Q: Sounds like a good plan to me!

STUDDARD: It’s real simple, that’s for sure! (


Article by Lucky Clark

Lucky Clark has spent over four decades writing for numerous publications about good music and the people who make it.
Lucky Clark
Music in Review

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