Check out the moving first single and touching video from Scott Sean White’s new album, Call It Even, out April 23.
If you don’t mind your heartstrings being tugged at and maybe a few tears rolling down your cheeks, you’ll surely appreciate the sentimental and strong new song and video from Scott Sean White, “Dad’s Garage & Mama’s Kitchen.” Even if — or especially if — you’re hurting from the loss of a parent, White’s deft delivery of good old-fashioned feelings and loving nostalgia for everything about parents will get you where you live.
We’re premiering the tender video that White worked up for the sensitive song, and we’ve got our conversation with him about his journey to releasing both this first single and his first album.
Cowboys & Indians: You’re gearing up to release your first album, Call It Even, which drops April 23, but you’re no stranger to the music industry. Tell us about your journey leading up to this release.
Scott Sean White: Yes, it has been a long, long road to my first album. [Laughs.] But I wouldn’t change any of it. I have been making a living full time with music since 1995. In the earliest days, a few years out of high school, I was playing in three cover bands and working a day job. By 1995, when I quit the day job, I was down to one cover band (that was gigging three to five nights a week) and also being a studio engineer at three studios in the Dallas area, and doing production and arrangement for private clients. Surprisingly, that was almost all hip-hop, rap, and R&B. I didn’t even like country music back then. Now, it is my first love, hands down. Crazy.
My run in that cover band lasted 29 years and I played keys in it, ran it, managed it, booked it — everything. In 2005, I made my first trip to Nashville, and kinda knew I had found my true musical and genre “home” right away. So I started making trips at least once a month, sometimes twice a month, and never stopped. Things got to the point in 2018 that it was time to sell the business of that cover band and dive headfirst, full time, into the songwriting thing. And that finally led me to the point where I knew I had to make my own record. For two years, I couldn’t find the time because I was in Nashville two weeks every month, plus playing shows and starting to do some writing in Austin as well. But then COVID happened. And suddenly I had time! One last note: None of this would have happened without my wife, Brenda. None of it.
C&I: The video for the album’s first single, “Dad’s Garage & Mama’s Kitchen,” premieres with us here at C&I today. Tell us about the writing process for the song and how the video came about. What did you want to communicate?
White: My co-writer, Helene Cronin, had this idea. Right after her mom’s passing — her dad had passed away years prior — she had to go through the house and her mom’s things and figure out what to do with it all. She was sitting at her mom’s kitchen table and thinking about all the conversations she’d had with her there. Then she thought about where her dad had spoken into her life, and that was the garage. So she had this idea about two places completely different and yet they were still tied together in a deep way.
I am so thankful she brought this idea to me to co-write! It took at least three or four writing sessions to nail it down. It wasn’t easy. But it was so worth it. Even though I didn’t grow up with these kinds of parents at all, I saw that dynamic in my own house with my wife and our two daughters. I’m not mechanically inclined at all, so my place of speaking into their life was not fixing stuff in a garage, but it was clear that Brenda and I had two different ways of impacting our kids. And that was a beautiful thing. A beautiful difference. That “beautiful” is what we wanted to communicate with the song and the video. And I have to say that Buddy Farler, who plays the dad in the video, really made the whole video happen. We used his mom’s house for the location, which was absolutely perfect with a detached garage, an amazing country home kitchen, and everything. His dad had passed a few years earlier and they hadn’t touched his shop in the garage, so that was perfect, too. Then, to top it all off, Buddy called me the day before and said, “Hey, I have a buddy with an awesome old hotrod. Want me to see if he’ll bring it over?” What?!? Oh, and Buddy’s mom baked us a chicken enchilada casserole! Crazy! So, yes, we really ate in the video. And we were starving, too, because those were almost the last scenes of the day.
C&I: You have one foot in Texas and one in Tennessee. What inspires you about both places?
White: What a great question. Sitting here thinking about it, Texas is the real-life part of it. Especially this album. The life I talk about, write about, sing about happened almost completely here in Texas. Most of the songs were either born here or born somewhere on the highway between here and Tennessee, thinking about life here. Nashville has been the craft part. It’s hard to write great songs. I wish they just fell out, but they don’t, at least not for me. And Nashville taught me — lesson by lesson, session by session, show by show — the craft. Both communities are amazing. Both communities are immensely inspiring. And together, they kind of serve as a checks-and-balances thing for me. Texas reminds me that songs don’t have to be commercial — and I need that because my job as a staff writer is, to a large extent, to write songs that famous people will want to record. After all, money does help with paying the bills and stuff. [Laughs.] But the artist in me? Texas says “Be you!” Thank God for Texas. And thank God for Tennessee!
C&I: You have legendary songwriters publicly supporting this release — Barry Dean and Tony Arata to name a few. …
White: The kind of words these folks wrote down is surreal. These folks are some of my biggest songwriting heroes. Still can’t wrap my head around it. I’m so grateful.
The first time I heard Barry Dean was at the Bluebird Cafe on one of my first two or three trips to Nashville. I didn’t know who he was at all, but he played piano and he played this song called “God’s Will.” I remember calling my wife as I was leaving the Bluebird and telling her about how incredible that song was. Then a few weeks later, I heard Martina McBride singing it on the radio. I was like, how amazing is that?!? Barry and I ran into each other a little over the next few years and became casual friends. He produced one of my favorite albums ever – Killin’ Uncle Buzzy, by Travis Meadows. I ran into him in the parking lot at Universal (I think) one day after we both got out of writing sessions and he kinda told me the whole story about producing it. That was pretty cool.
And, Tony, well, I saw him for the first time at the Bluebird Cafe as well — go figure! (I spent a lot of time there in my first 10 years in town.) One of things that struck me the most was that, other than “The Dance,” Tony played these other songs that were all great and nothing like the radio. They were him. They were his “thing.” It was the beginning of the hint of “Be you.” And he was always so gracious when we spoke after one of his shows. A mutual friend sent him my album. I wasn’t brave enough to do that myself. [Laughs.]
C&I: What’s one song you wish you had written?
White: Oh, man, there’s a bunch. Truth is I could give you a list of Tony Lane songs I wish I wrote. Walt Wilkins songs. Tom Douglas songs. Bobby Pinson songs. Lori McKenna songs. Guy Clark songs. Chris Wallin songs. Shane MacAnally songs. Helene Cronin songs. Terri Jo Box songs. But one song? I’m gonna go with an obscure song by a fellow Texan that I have loved from the moment I heard it and proceeded to listen to it probably 50 times in a row: Radney Foster’s “The Kindness of Strangers.” I love the complicatedness — is that a word? — of the characters. Because that’s real. I’m so jealous of that song. [Laughs.]
C&I: What’s one song you did write that you hope stands the test of time?
White: That’s easy. “Humankind.” Because we’re a mess, bless our hearts. And we need “kind” desperately — and we always will.
C&I: There’s a thread of hope tying Call It Even together. What do you want people to take away from your new album?
White: Thank you. I hadn’t thought of it like that until you brought it up, but you’re right. There is a thread of hope. My first publisher in Nashville told me one day, “This isn’t a bad thing, so don’t take it that way, but you just can’t write a song without faith or Jesus or angels in it, can you?” I laughed and said something like, “Well I guess not. It’s just the way I’m made.” And while not every song I write has those things in it, the songs that mean something to me do. And there is hope — because I lived through the childhood in the first song “Call It Even” and ended up in the completely different life of the second song, “Crazy But True.” The details of the third song, “Crazy Til It Works,” are wildly different than Brenda’s and my story, but it’s still somehow totally true. I guess I feel like hope has been written into me from the beginning, so it makes sense that it pours out. Thanks for pointing that out, because it was never an intentional thought or effort.
For more on Scott Sean White, visit his website, or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube. To pre-save “Dad’s Garage & Mama’s Kitchen,” click here. To pre-save Call It Even, click here.
Buddy’s Mom’s Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Recipe by Faylene Farler
1 pint sour cream
3 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans chili peppers
1 cup chopped green onions
3 cups shredded chicken (cooked)
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
14-16 corn tortillas
Mix chicken soup, sour cream, chili peppers, and onions. Pour half of mix in 9” x 13” baking dish.
Roll some chicken and cheese in a tortilla and place close together on top of mix. When full, pour the rest of the mix on top.
Cover with cheese and bake at 350° for 30 to 45 minutes, or until cheese is browned. Let sit for approximately 10 minutes before serving.
Photography: Images by Katie Kessel