Local country musicians get social media shoutout from Gov. Lamont
When you think about country music, Connecticut probably doesn't come to mind. But the Nutmeg State now has two country music songs about it, and they're getting some attention after a social media shoutout from the governor.
Over the weekend, Gov. Ned Lamont shared snippets of "First Ever Connecticut Country Song" by Rusty Gear and "Connecticut" by the North County Band with his more than 90,000 followers on Twitter. And it turns out while neither musical act is from the Southwest, both are from southwestern Connecticut.
"I've been playing music all my life," Gear, a country and Americana musician from Greenwich, told News 12. "I've had cover bands around the area for a long time and started writing and producing original music about four years ago."
Gear said his latest "came from the idea that it's actually a challenge to be a country musician and live in the Northeast." Gear makes all his records in Nashville and said he recorded "First Ever Connecticut Country Song" to give the state "a little bit more respect."
Gear's country anthem talks about the state's hard-to-rhyme name, references famous lyrics about other states, and touts recent Connecticut legislation legalizing online gambling and marijuana.
"A lot of people think it's funny," Gear shared.
The other ode to our state comes from a country band that formed two years ago during the pandemic. The North County Band is made up of Scott Smith, Cat Lines, Jimmy Johnston, Peter Hill, Bradley Clark and Jona Ziac.
Smith, who lives in Redding, wrote "Connecticut" after seeing a social media post by the state's Department of Tourism.
"They were looking for ideas for new slogans for the state, and there were so many negative comments that came after. It was really disappointing to me," Smith said. "I love it here, and so I wanted to write something that evoked those strong images of our home state."
Smith told News 12, "Connecticut" is a love song to a woman, asking her to come back to the state. It recalls the shoreline, World Wrestling Entertainment and some of Connecticut's well-known residents, like Mark Twain and Helen Keller.
"I mean, he name-drops the Huskies! How good is that?" Hill explained.
"And John Mayer," added Johnston.
"It was really cool," said Lines about the recognition from the governor. "It's fun to see multiple different groups having country music related to Connecticut. I think it's something that's probably not written about very often."
"Connecticut" by the North County Band was just released this week on all streaming services. You can also check it out on YouTube. The group's EP is set to drop in early July.
"First Ever Connecticut Country Song" is out on Spotify and can be found on YouTube. Gear said he has a new album dropping soon.
Both Gear and the North County Band said it was great to see Lamont tweet about their music and maybe open some people's ears to country in Connecticut. But the tweets have also now become an issue in the race for governor. Lamont's Republican opponent accused him of supporting teen drug use because of the line in one of the songs about recreational marijuana.