Steve Branch and Dean Scallan
Two of Baker County’s own, Dean Scallan and Steve Branch, have recorded a song that’s making some waves up in Nashville.
The duo stopped by The Press office for an interview November 4 with features reporter Kelley Lannigan to talk about the recording of the new song, their history together and what they miss most about Baker County.
Mr. Branch: I’ll tell you where all this started with me. Years ago, I was in a local group called the Denim Band and I wanted us to take part in the Baker County fair talent show, but for some reason they couldn’t do it. So that’s when I bought my first karaoke soundtrack, Rose Colored Glasses, and I performed it in the fair.
Kelley Lannigan: How’d you do?
Mr. Branch: I can tell you I didn’t win.
Mr. Scallan: So tell them what was funny about that.
Mr. Branch: Well, Dean here, his momma Glenda was one of the judges. She came up to me afterwards and asked me if it was really me that was singing and I told her yes. She was surprised and said they thought I was only acting like I was singing. She told me, “Steve, if we had known it was actually you, you would have won!”
Ms. Lannigan: Wow, that’s a riot! So what happened after that?
Mr. Branch: Ms. Glenda started setting me up with gigs at their parties and at events their family business was involved in and I soon had about a dozen songs I was performing. Because of that I think Dean was exposed to a lot of performing and got interested in singing himself.
Mr. Scallan: That’s right. Mom always helped him. My parents had a cajun food business and they worked a lot of festivals and events where they got Steve gigs.
Ms. Lannigan: So you did a lot of singing together and you just naturally hooked up?
Mr. Scallan: Not straight away. Steve, he could sound like anybody. I simply couldn’t and there came a time when I figured I had to give up any ideas of being a singer. I picked up a guitar and started writing songs instead, which I developed a real passion for. I moved to Nashville to work and try to get involved in the music business. What happened was my writing carried me and my singing eventually caught up.
Mr. Branch: And that’s the irony. If Dean had not been discouraged and taken a different path, he might not have gone to Nashville.
Ms. Lannigan: So what are the two of you doing now?
Mr. Branch: Dean’s been in Nashville for a number of years. I’m here currently working for FedEx but I’ve lived in Nashville before myself and go back and forth. We’ve been collaborating on a new song and a music video to promote it.
Ms. Lannigan: What’s the song?
Mr. Branch: It’s called “Your Ol’ Lady’s Gone.” It’s got a really catchy chorus where I yodel and we had a great time in the studio recording it.
Ms. Lannigan: Tell us about that, the recording process.
Mr. Scallan: It’s a long process but it always starts with a great song, which is most important. Sometimes really great songs get overshadowed by all the industry politics and so we try not to let that happen. We always strive to write something of quality or find a really good song written by someone else. We have to believe in the song to make it work.
Mr. Branch: Then we get some studio time and Dean and I go in by ourselves with just a guitar. We kick things around, work them out, come up with his part, then my part, any harmonies that might work. Then, we make it all work together.
Mr. Scallan: When we’ve got something that works, then the other musicians are hired. We’re lucky, because of some of the folks we know in Nashville, like mega-hit writer Michael Huffman who wrote Tight Fittin’ Jeans recorded by Conway Twitty. We have access to A-list players. Those are the musicians who have worked with the biggest names in the industry so it’s an honor for independent guys like us to be able to use them.
Ms. Lannigan: That seems pretty exciting and sounds like a whole different world than Baker County.
Mr. Branch: It surely is, but no matter where we are or where we go, this will always be home.
Ms. Lannigan: What do you miss most when you’re in Nashville?
Mr. Branch: Family of course, but it’s the people in Baker County in general. I just cannot explain what this county means to me. Anyway, it will always be home to me.
Mr. Scallan: It’s all the love and support we get. People in this county really get behind and support you here. There’s great communities all across this country, of course, but Baker County has a sense of pride like no other place I’ve ever been to.
Ms. Lannigan: What are some of your best memories?
Mr. Branch: For me it’s definitely all the parties Dean and I have sung at together.
Ms. Lannigan: I guess music goes way back for both of you. Has it always been part of your lives?
Mr. Scallan: Tell them that story, Steve.
Mr. Branch: It’s a funny thing, really. I started with music early. I didn’t really understand it until later because my parents hardly even listened to the radio. Then the day came when my mom told me I was adopted. Naturally, I wanted to know about my background. Here’s what she told me: “All I can tell you is this — your momma was a secretary and your daddy was a well known country singer.”
Ms. Lannigan: Boy, that’s interesting. It must be bred in the bone. So, you’ve got a concert coming up soon, right?
Mr. Scallan: We’re opening for a really talented guy we know, Josh Thompson, at Mavericks in The Landing on November 18. Ticket sales have been going well. I think half of Macclenny is going to be there.
Mr. Branch: They’ve certainly been hearing the commercial about the concert on the radio, because people have been calling me about it.
Ms. Lannigan: So, are you excited?
Mr. Scallan: More than excited. There will be industry people there. We’re getting the shot of a lifetime.
Mr. Branch: Things might go extremely well for us because of this. If they don’t, that’s alright too. But faith plays a part in it and I fully believe that. When God has His hands in something, anything is possible. Regardless of the outcome, I’m living my dream.
Mr. Scallan: That makes two of us.
More of the interview can be viewed here.