Mississippi-born blues-folk favorite sweeps into OKC with rambling, rootsy songs 

Some artists are crafted by outside forces, while others wind upward, vine-like, working their way slowly into the light, supported by the traditions that came before them. Rootsy singer/songwriter Jason Eady chose vine over product after being cured of his musical disillusionment by such artists as Steve Earle, John Prine and Townes Van Zandt.

Although Eady has only two albums to his credit, they honor his influences. Backed by The Wayward Apostles, his new album, "Wild-Eyed Serenade," wanders from honky-tonk to swamp soul and alt-country ramble with a crackle and an assurance you'd expect from far more experienced hands.

Eady will performs 10 p.m. Friday at the 51st Street Speakeasy.

Raised near Jackson, Miss., Eady has had the music bug for as long as he can remember. He loved to sing, and first learned the guitar so he could accompany himself. Although he grew up on traditional country from Merle Haggard to Willie Nelson, Jackson is well-tilled musical territory.

"Everything crosses through that area, whether it was jazz from New Orleans, Southern gospel, bluegrass, or Southern rock. All of that kind of meshed there in the middle in Jackson, and it just kind of soaked in," Eady said.

FAITH HILL'S FOOTSTEPS
He showed musical promise from an early age, and figured that's what he'd do with his life. A farm girl from Starr, Miss. " just three miles from Eady's home in Florence " had already made her way to Nashville, Tenn. and he thought he'd follow in Faith Hill's footsteps.

After high school, he went to Nashville every weekend, insinuating himself into the scene. He was on his way, but something didn't feel right.

"I got up there, and the closer I got, the more I realized that route wasn't necessarily what I was looking for," Eady said. "One day I just woke up going, 'Whoa, what do I want to do?' It was a crossroads. Do I go ahead down that road anyway, even though something doesn't feel quite right about it, or do I do something different, and if I do something different, what do I do? I'd never really done anything else."

Instead, he did what any confused, disillusioned 20-year-old would do: He enlisted in the Air Force. Within a year, he was not only a cadet, but married.

He'd reconciled himself to a life without music, but toward the end of his service, he discovered Earle and other artists, who showed him another way. He took a job in Fort Worth, where he started playing in public, and discovered, to his surprise, the great level of support for original songwriters. Finally, with 30 on the horizon, he quit his job and went after the dream full-on.

"If I just dip my toes in the water, I tend to not get much done. I kind of have to take the safety net away in order for me to commit," he said. "Chris Parker

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