n the fall of 1984, Reagan Boggs first learned what a powerful tool being able to sing and play music could be. It was the annual 4-H show at J.W. Adams Elementary School; decked out in her cowgirl outfit, 8 year-old Reagan stepped on stage with her guitar and belted out the Judds' hit “Mama He's Crazy.” Immediately after performing, schoolmates who never spoke to her in class came up seeking her attention.
“It's so funny. I was such an introverted kid that I rarely talked to anyone in school – especially when I was really young. I had nothing in common with most of them because my home life was so chaotic, and I typically missed a lot (of school). When I got the nerve to perform in the 4-H shows and won, all these kids would come around like I was some big star. My teachers made banners with my name on them and for a day I was cool. I thought, I could get used to this . . . but the next day, it was back to business as usual.” (She laughs)
She grew up in the tiny town of Pound. Her family's home was tucked away in a “holler” outside the small mining community in Southwest Virginia. The normal routine of girl-talk and slumber parties were uncommon for Reagan since a social life did not exist. The fact that the home was inconvenient for company wasn't the sole reason; rather, concerns of an unpredictable, alcoholic father with an angry temper and a violent nature made for a lonely childhood. In the midst of daily brawls between her parents and frequent nighttime escapes with her mother and siblings from her home, she found solace inside music. “Music has been a blessing. It has always helped me to cope with bad situations and has given me a voice to overcome the barrier that I have of meeting new people, and it has allowed me to make lasting friends… and enemies – we'll avoid that subject.”
Both her mother and father were gifted musicians, “My Mom was the one who really nurtured my love of music, that or she was tired of me beating my little plastic guitar to death without any reason or rhyme, while writing songs about buying my grandma a vacuum cleaner for Christmas . . . she probably decided she was going to have to teach me something or go insane.” Despite the fact that he wrestled with his demons, her dad always offered encouragement. He taught her to play as soon as she could wrap her fingers around the neck of his Martin guitar, and he liked to show her off. “On my sixth birthday Dad taught me the chords to my first song I ever learned to play on the guitar. A silly little thing with the words ‘rabbit in a log and I ain't got no dog, how will I get em, I know . . .' which had a dreaded G chord in it. It was tough because my hands where so small. Later, he would have me sing in front of his friends sometimes taking me into bars when I wasn't even 10, setting me on a tabletop and letting me play. Many nights after the bars had closed, he'd bring everyone home to a little cabin we had on the farm. He would have Mom come pull me out of bed and we'd all play music ‘til daylight. Mom would also enter me in talent contests or beauty pageants that had a talent category so I could get used to performing in front of crowds. It also helped me get over being shy and my early struggle with stage fright.”
After recording her first album titled Somewhere In The Middle at age seventeen, she made a trip to perform in Nashville. There she displayed her songwriting ability at the renowned Bluebird Café, sharing the floor with Skip Ewing, Paul Overstreet, and David Gibson. The path took many turns over the next several years; it led to fronting blues, country, and rock bands, running the gamut of the eclectic mix of her influences. “I've sung about everything at one time or another. I've covered songs from Led Zeppelin to Alison Krauss. I may not have been good at all of it, but sometimes it's hard to know what you are best at until you try. A guy once told me it's better to be great at one thing than half-assed at several. I can see that, but why limit yourself? Versatility to me is very important; it opens up the music to endless possibilities and also keeps it fresh.”
Reagan's first solo release in nearly ten years, Never Looking Behind involved reaching deep back from her past, but focusing on her future. “I really struggled with a title for this project. I wanted it to be positive because I have so much confidence in it. It came to me in my sleep finally. I had the lyrics to Jay Farrar's, “Tear Stained Eye” in my head. The part ‘we'll hit the road; never looking behind' . . . and I thought . . . that's it . . .That's what I want it to be.”
The album could be classified Country, AAA, Alt Country, or Americana; it's up to the listener and the critic's discretion. For Reagan, the sound is finally her. “It really wasn't until I bought XM radio and found an alt-country station that was playing artists like Julie and Buddy Miller, Lucinda Williams, and Mindy Smith that I suddenly realized . . . hey that's me. That's exactly what I am and have been trying to describe to people about my music in WAY too many words.” Eric Fritch of Eastwood Studios in Nashville engineered and produced the entire project; “The songs that I write are country, but there's always a touch of rock, blues or a little bluegrass in there somewhere. I am now very comfortable in my own skin, and I've taken the mixed-up hodgepodge of blues country and rock and have found a home in Americana. The new record is more me than anything I've ever done. Not me trying to be a rock singer or a blues singer. It's very natural and real. I am very excited about it. Eric has done an outstanding job . . . we talked about how I wanted this to sound, and he has just flat out nailed it!”
The compilation features 11 tracks, including 8 Boggs originals. It begins with the upbeat driving song, “Share Them with You.” She explains, “This song has to be one of my favorites; it's about being on the road, taking in all the little things you see along the way, and in the meantime, wanting to share all those things with someone who can't be there.” It includes heartfelt ballads “Loose Change” and “Everything Here;” “Can't Love You Anymore,” which is grittier - Rockin' Country with Stuart Duncan's wailing fiddle; the whimsical “Stars in Our Eyes;” and Reagan really shows her roots as she leans toward Bluegrass, or maybe better described as “Mountain Music,” in the haunting tale, “Wrong Last Name.” “This is the true story of my great-great grandmother, who had a child from an affair and gave the boy her husband's last name, and no one ever knew the wiser. The truth came out later when she was asked to testify after her son's murder to the fact that the man who had killed him had actually been his brother – her lover's legitimate son to prove that it couldn't have been intentional” The album rounds out with a cover of that classic Son Volt tune "Tear Stained Eye." It closes with a soft love song written by her friend Scotty Melton.
The majority of 2006 will be spent touring, both solo and with her band. The six-piece ensemble features: Greg Smith on lead electric/acoustic guitar; Kevin Light on upright & electric bass; Jason Crawford on mandolin, banjo, and guitar; Alan Gamble on drums; David Cate on keys; and Reagan on guitar. The promotion of Never Looking Behind began with a sold out show close to home at one of the nation's finest listening rooms, the Down Home in Johnson City ,TN and will continue with a rigorous trek from Texas to the Northeast. For a list of dates vist the tour link .