By TAMARA KOSSATZ
A singer’s combination of good looks, an eastern Kentucky accent and cowboy boots can easily draw a crowd of fans.
The real charm lies in the perspective and lyrics voiced in the songs of Nick Jamerson.
Die-hard followers know Jamerson as part of the duo Sundy Best, who has released four albums since forming in 2010. The first album, “Tales, Lies and Exaggerations,” was a demo recorded by Jamerson and his Sundy Best partner, Kris Bentley, at home. Their most recent album, It’s So Good LIVE!, will be available on April 22, 2016.
Although success mounts for Sundy Best, after nearly 900 appearances, Jamerson has chosen the path back to Prestonsburg — for now.
“In the middle of doing what you’re doing on the road, it’s hard to reflect on reality and perspective… it’s good to get headspace on it all,” Jamerson said.
Away from the microphone, friends and family know Nick as the former wide receiver for Pikeville College (now University of Pikeville), as Dewey Jamerson’s son or the brother of Clay, Joseph or Emily. Soon, Jamerson will be an uncle for the first time.
As much as Jamerson enjoys being on the road and meeting people, it was time to take control of his direction in life, and to be in his hometown with his family.
“I like steering the ship,” Jamerson said. “Nobody likes to eat the same thing for breakfast…you like what you like, you don’t what you don’t.”
Because the economic surroundings in eastern Kentucky are dwindling, coal miners are having to look elsewhere for jobs. According to the Kentucky Quarterly Coal Report, 2015 saw a decline in coalfields with more than 2,000 people losing their jobs, which caused local businesses and government programs to suffer.
“Where else could 18, 19-year-olds make $80,000 plus with a high school degree?” Jamerson said.
Last fall, Jamerson and his father took a trip down to Wheelwright to visit the place his great-grandmother Granbud used to live. In her house, family members and friends would gather together to sing and play instruments of all kinds. It was Grandbud who gave Jamerson a guitar for his birthday in seventh or eighth grade.
Besides the trip down memory lane, Jamerson recorded video reminiscing of the once vibrant town, recalling it as a “vacation home.” Footage during this trip introduced the YouTube video for his song, It’s a long way to Wheelwright. Jamerson dons his harmonica and guitar in the empty house to share a piece of the inspiration gained from his childhood— “A boomtown as a youngin and a ghost town as a man. There ain’t much here left for packin’, yea we’ve taken all we can.”
“If people my age don’t take hold of surroundings, it will go away,” Jamerson said.
Early on in Jamerson’s songwriting, he was not sure his songs were any good but 10 years later, he is still playing them. Jamerson relayed a thought from Bob Dylan on how we get smarter as we age, but it inhibits creativity.
Though Dylan may have been correct, Jamerson does not seem to be limited in his talent of marrying words and music. Sources of Jamerson’s enthusiasm for music range from spending three times a week in church with his mother as a choir director, his first concert seeing The Temptations, hanging out at Granbud’s, listening to The Eagles with his dad or pulling influence from Tom Petty or Allun Cormier.
Presently, he chooses home for “turning the page” with his music and life, because you can’t recreate the feeling of being in the mountain, Jamerson said. Despite Sundy Best’s large success in and out of Kentucky, Jamerson has his own ideas of success.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about family and friends,” said Jamerson. “I hope music can keep a roof over my head.”