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Dogwood Tales brings sound of Shenandoah Valley to Press Club

October 19, 2018 GMT

All mountains are not the same. The mountains here in West Virginia are different in shape and style than those in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and those in turn are different from the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.

Kyle Grim of the band Dogwood Tales grew up in the Shenandoah Valley and eventually settled in Harrisonburg, VA, after going to college at James Madison University. It was there that he met Ben Ryan, who is the second half of the duo. It was soon apparent that their musical styles clicked and the end result is Dogwood Tales’ latest album “Too Hard To Tell.”

Recorded analog style on two inch tape, Too Hard To Tell is full of musical narratives that can be best described as alt. country, or Americana, or original roots music story songs that will make you feel good.

Dogwood Tales will be traveling to Huntington for the first time ever to perform at the Press Club on Friday, Oct. 19. The other musicians on the bill will include Tucker Riggleman and Corey Zornes. Tickets are $5, the show is all ages and it begins at 8 p.m.

You can listen to the Too Hard To Tell album on the front page of the www.dogwoodtalesmusic.com website.

Kyle Grim has become fascinated with all things West Virginia lately after realizing that a side of his family tree is from here. The Mountain State is not far from the Shenandoah Valley as it begins just past the western ridge of that famous basin.

“My grandma is from Davis, WV, so I would periodically go to West Virginia as a kid,” said Kyle Grim. “My grandfather was a truck driver who died in a car crash there when my Mom was 18, and we would go and visit his grave every once in a while and visit his church. But, I haven’t spent too much time there, but I have always wanted to. I also have family in the Eastern Panhandle. Now, I am really excited to explore West Virginia.”

A while ago, Dogwood Tales played at the Purple Fiddle venue in Thomas, WV, and while there he experienced a typical Mountain State encounter.

“We played at the Purple Fiddle and while we were there, I ended up meeting this guy who had a good friend with the same last name as my grandfather,” said Grim. “We ended talking about where my family lived and whatnot and he said, ‘Man, I think my friend is your cousin.’ My family doesn’t talk about their history much. But I have been checking it out and still do as I am very curious as to who my grandpa was as a person. I even wrote a song about it once and I really liked it, but I stopped playing it because it was too personal. Tucker Riggleman, who is playing with us at the Press Club, he is a good friend of ours and he told us he could book these shows in West Virginia and there is some kind of part of me that is really called to play shows there and to meet the people there. I want to learn and find out what I can.”

Grim and Ryan are bringing Dogwood Tales to Huntington as a trio featuring Michael Bowman on bass.

“I try to write music every day and play the guitar every day,” said Grim. “There have been periods of my life when the music just flows out of me, where I can sit down and work a song out and then finish it the next day. But, I actually went through a serious drought this summer when it came to songwriting. I stayed home a lot and wasn’t working because I had saved up enough money to do nothing but write music and it ended up backfiring on me pretty hard. It was a strange mental place to be, but now I feel very rejuvenated. I took a lot of time to make sure I was doing what I wanted to do. I know I want to play music, but it can be really hard and can work on you in good ways and bad ways.”

Grim came across some advice from a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer that turned his head around.

“I recently watched a video where Neil Young was talking about his own songwriting process and the concept of ‘following the muse,’” said Grim.

“Neil said that he read something that Bob Dylan said, which was, ‘You can’t force anything that is not there, but you do have to be there to be ready for it.’ That approach has been really influential on me. I can’t force it if I am sitting there and not coming up with anything. But now, I try to work on other songs while I am waiting for new ideas to come. I try to always be present and be ready for a new song. It is a long and never-ending journey and that excites me. I will be writing songs for the rest of my life.”