Demopolis native returning home for songwriters festival

Jay Studdard and Fran Jackson - collectively known as Bedhed and Blondy - will perform at the Highway 80 Songwriters Festival Saturday night. Jackson is a Demopolis HIgh graduate.

Jay Studdard and Fran Jackson – collectively known as Bedhed and Blondy – will perform at the Highway 80 Songwriters Festival Saturday night. Jackson is a Demopolis HIgh graduate.

She has played plenty of hotspots in and around Nashville and seen growing crowds as Bedhed and Blondy’s star continues to rise. Still, Fran Jackson admits there is something a little bit nerve-wracking about going home again.

“I’m definitely more nervous playing in front of people that I know. It’s easier to play for people that I don’t know,” Jackson, a Demopolis High School Class of 1996 graduate, says of returning to play in front of a hometown crowd. “These people have known me all my life. But I’m anxious for them to hear songs that I have written and to get to know me through my songs and through music because I never sang in public growing up really. I sang in church, but never really in public.”

Jackson will take the stage Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Public Square and at 9 p.m. at the Rosenbush Stage alongside her musical partner Jay Studdard as one of 20 acts slated to take part in the first Highway 80 Songwriters Festival.

The pair met in 2009 shortly after Jackson rediscovered her love of writing and performing music.

“I’ve been in Nashville in 2001. When I first moved here, I played a lot of writers’ nights and then I took a break for seven years and went back to school to get my master’s in teaching. I took a long break and didn’t touch a guitar for a long time,” Jackson said. “When I did pick up a guitar in 2009, what I was playing and writing sounded a lot different than what I was playing and writing before. So I got really excited about playing music again.”

Jackson met Studdard later that summer and found a personal and musical connection that has continued to blossom.

“Not too long after that, we started hanging out a lot and playing and writing together. We’ve been playing and writing together ever since,” Jackson explained.

“I think it is the way that, for some reason the timbre of our voices sounds good together. A lot of voices don’t work well together, but ours do,” Studdard, who moved to Nashville from Sandersville, Ga. in 1996, said of the immediate chemistry the duo found. “I guess the essence of why we play and sing together is the way our voices work together and the way our harmonies work together.”

Bedhed and Blondy have previously played in Demopolis at Christmas on the River and for a benefit for Anna-Coleman Yelverton.

Bedhed and Blondy have previously played in Demopolis at Christmas on the River and for a benefit for Anna-Coleman Yelverton.

The duo initially booked Nashville writers’ nights as Fran and Jay before stumbling onto the name Bedhed and Blondy when Studdard jokingly booked the tandem for a show under the moniker.

In the time since they got together, Bedhed and Blondy have released four records and seen themselves supported by three different bands.

“We’ve put out four different records. The first one we just recorded at Jay’s apartment on a little eight-track recorder. Somewhere in Memphis, that’s what we called the first record. That’s the first song we ever wrote together. It was mostly just songs that I had written and songs that Jay had written and we just recorded them all together,” Jackson explained.

The duo would later enlist a lead guitar player and ultimately a bass player and percussionist for the record Nuthin.’

“We have three-part harmonies on that CD and we got a lot of really good reviews on that record,” Jackson said.

Nuthin’ helped the group to gain steam locally and book regular headline nights before the band parted ways for other opportunities. In 2012, Bedhed and Blondy found itself with a slightly different sound as it released Down South.

Demopolis native Fran Jackson stepped away from music for seven years before discovering a new sound in 2009. That sound will be on display in Demopolis this weekend alongside Jay Studdard.

Demopolis native Fran Jackson stepped away from music for seven years before discovering a new sound in 2009. That sound will be on display in Demopolis this weekend alongside Jay Studdard.

“It changes substantially with each band. Every guitar player sounds different. Every bass player sounds different. The only constant that we’ve had in any of the bands is our percussionist Billy Ramirez,” Studdard said. “It changes the sound a lot depending on what your guitar player sounds like. We’ve had one bass player that was a jazzy sounding dude and another that was a rock sounding guy. All those things really change the sound of the music you’re making. It’s a big difference with every band.”

But amid all the changes, the constant for Bedhed and Blondy has been the vocal harmonies and musical chemistry of Jackson and Studdard.

“I think what makes us work so well is that we’re so different,” Jackson said. “We don’t agree a lot on music. We have differences of opinion on music and how things should sound and what word to use. But there is an energy there where I want things this way and he wants things this way and – pow – something comes out that we’ve both made.”

The group’s current record, Live, is a three-song EP featuring a new band and a still-evolving sound that spans the spectrum of Folk, Americana and Alt-Country while even tugging on the occasional Bluegrass chord.

550992_10151405925956318_1336406161_nJackson and Studdard, who have previously played Christmas on the River as well as a Demopolis Country Club benefit for Anna-Coleman Yelverton, will be playing songs from all four of their records Saturday night in Public Square.

For more information on Bedhed and Blondy, visit the group’s website at bedhedandblondy.blogspot.com. To view the band’s music videos, search Bedhed and Blondy on YouTube.

See below for a complete list of Highway 80 Songwriters Festival performers.

6pm-7pm

Public Square Stage

James Edwards

Old Southwest

Scott McQuaig

Alan Hartzell

Donna Slater

 

6pm-7pm

Rosenbush Stage

Steve Wilkerson

Amy Lott

Steven Padilla

Dee Peterson

Joey Ethridge

 

7pm-8pm

Public Square stage

Bedhed and Blondy

Richelle Putnam

Hope Cassidy

Terry Cherry

Frank Fields

 

7pm-8pm

Rosenbush Stage

Debbie Bond

John Paul Dove

Britt Gully

Jill Tutt

Blain Dunkan

 

8pm-9pm

Public Square Stage

Steve Wilkerson

Amy Lott

Steven Padilla

Dee Peterson

Joey Ethridge

 

8pm-9pm

Rosenbush Stage

James Edwards

Old Southwest

Scott McQuaig

Alan Hartzell

Donna Slater

 

9pm-10pm

Public Square Stage

Debbie Bond

John Paul Dove

Britt Gully

Jill Tutt

Blain Dunkan

 

9pm-10pm

Rosenbush Stage

Bedhed and Blondy

Richelle Putnam

Hope Cassidy

Terry Cherry

Frank Fields