NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An unusual winter storm in Nashville and the loss of a steady job aren’t enough to get Blind Joe down.
After a recent wild ride, the singer and guitarist is ready to turn Music City on its ear, with plans to record and release new songs.
“I’m feeling the best I’ve ever been in my entire life,” the former Fargo-based artist says from his home in Nashville.
Joe Bommersbach, who has long gone by Blind Joe, was prepared to enter a studio this week when a rare wintry front threw up a temporary road block.
The singer is used to hurdles. After cutting his teeth on the local music scene, the 2000 graduate of Fargo North High was a contestant on "The Voice" in 2015. He moved to Nashville in October 2019 and eventually got a gig performing regularly at the legendary Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.
He says he was fired from the landmark bar a few months ago and has been hustling to make ends meet.
Rather than feeling sorry for himself, he used the experience to write a handful of new songs, including the biting take on the country music industry, “Don’t Come to Nashville.”
“I knew we were done. I was about to go home because it wasn’t working in Nashville,” he says.
His songs caught the ear of Nashville producer Craig Wilson, who offered to help Blind Joe record and produce without the constraints of a contract.
“Once you sign a contract, they own you,” Blind Joe says.
The agreement states that Blind Joe will retain the rights to his songs.
He says he’s close to his goal of raising $2,500 to record the first song, “Light of her Love.”
“These songs will be like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Travis Tritt, in-your-face type songs, like you’d hear if you were just pulling up to Sturgis,” he says.
He posted demo versions of the songs on his YouTube channel.
“I’m hitting this like I hit my sobriety, which will be two years on St. Patrick’s Day, by the grace of God,” he says.
While he’s sober, he still finds comfort in writing drinking songs, like “2 Beer Breakfast.”
“I was writing about being in a bar at 7 years old,” he says. “I love a good drinking song as much as I loved the drink.”
For him now, drinking songs are more a nod to the tradition of country music rather than expressing his own feelings about drinking.
“You want to play to your crowd. As it happens, I’m usually paying in a honkytonk,” he says.
After he records and mixes the new songs, he’ll post them on iTunes and hopes to take the money and financial help from fans to keep recording and releasing music. His goal is to start his own label, which he would use to help emerging artists navigate what can be a treacherous music industry.
For now, the singer is thankful to be recording.
“I hit my knees and told Jesus, ‘You know me, I’m not a small sign kind of guy. I need a big sign if I’m to stay in Nashville,’” he says about the day before he heard from Wilson. “Jesus is the reason I got the deal I got.”