By Jhoni Jackson
If you’re at all familiar with Cory Branan, you won’t be too surprised by his answers to our 5GB series. The Memphis-based artist’s work follows the storytelling vein of classic country and folk, and his responses reflect how deeply that tendency is rooted within him. He doesn’t give many short answers—he can’t help but tell a tale.
Influences like John Prine are, while incredibly worthwhile and significant, quite predictable in light of Branan’s sound. What’s more interesting is Branan’s reference to Raymond Carver in his bio. The American author was best known for his plainly written short stories about the underlying and symbolic complexities of common people. Characters were typically downtrodden, almost futile. Carver shed light on the unpredictable truths of living, which is often riddled with obstacles and depressions. Branan’s songwriting most certainly follows this method. He’s also a fan of Tom Waits, who is similarly influenced and acted in Short Cuts, a film adaptation of a handful of Carver’s works.
What’s the first gig you ever attended?
I used to get “dragged” to country shows at the state fair all the time. I vaguely remember seeing Willie Nelson. Alas, we ain’t born with taste so I didn’t care much then. First show I ever bought tickets and was stoked about was the Cult’s Sonic Temple tour.
What is the best gig that you ever played/performed?
I played in someone’s back yard in Baton Rouge and all the neighbors “Benadryl’d” their dogs so they wouldn’t bark the whole time. There was just this huge pile of dogs passed out on each other. Simultaneously courteous and psychotic.
What is the best gig you have ever seen?
I went to see They Might Be Giants play a Christmas show in Memphis. The singer was sick so Frank Black filled in. They called themselves They Might Be Black and opened with the heaviest version of “Duke of Earl” you can imagine.
What is the gig you would most like to play?
That’s easy—I would like to play a gig with my hero John Prine. Or carry his guitar for him.
What would be the lineup for your dream gig?
John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and Tom Waits all swapping songs in some dive bar in the desert.
Cory Branan plays 529 this Friday, Feb. 22, with Jon Snodgrass, Ben Trickey and Joseph Lazzari.