Imitation is the best flattery and local musician Scott Gardner displays such in his free-spirited project centered on a country-music trailblazer.
Gardner, beat-maker for Bowling Green’s underground hip-hop trio Waco Bell, is Scottie West: a fused country-rap tribute artist honoring the late and first country female vocalist to win a GRAMMY award, Dottie West. He made a set debut in Rocky’s Bar, located at East Main Avenue, for the pub crawl of the third annual Bowling Green Pride celebrations in early October.
In the fully packed venue, Gardner, dressed in a cloak at first, gave high-fives in-between songs and educated peers on Dottie West trivia.
“Not a lot of people can say they had a state representative supporting them front row at their set for Pride,” Gardner said of Patti Minter, local music fan and representative of House District 20 in the Kentucky House of Representatives. “Dottie West’s birthday is October 11th, she’s a Libra just like Scottie West, September 26th...You might have heard Dottie’s 1980 No. 1 hit, you might have heard, “Lesson in Leavin.”
This Dottie West track, later covered by Jo Dee Messina, birthed the project.
“Back in April, I decided to make a playlist of exclusively Libra artists. I was unfamiliar with Dottie West’s music before that, but I fell in love with 'Lesson in Leavin'."
Serendipity played a part too.
“Yeah, I was obsessed with Dottie West. I listen to all her music. I was working at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center with Ronnie Milsap and I was walking to work listening to “Tonight You Belong To Me,” the Dottie West cover, and to make conversation with Ronnie’s sound guy, I asked ‘Hey, you know who sang that song originally?’ and he said ‘I’m not sure, but my mom sang a version.’
Unknowingly, Gardner chatted with another West-- Richard Kerry West.
“The first son of Dottie West!” Gardner said, smiling. “I had my biography with me at the time. The next day, I started Scottie West, Thottie West: Volume One and the rest is history.”
Gardner, currently enrolled in folklore curriculum at Western Kentucky University, said he intends to involve the first volume of his country rap eight track album, Thottie West, into a course requirement. He attended the third annual Dottie West Birthday Bash at 3rd and Lindsey in Nashville, celebrating what would have been West’s 86th birthday. West died in a fatal car accident on the way to a performance at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
The venue also was a celebration for West’s upcoming induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The event, with proceeds benefiting the Nashville Musicians Emergency Relief Fund, included artists Tess Frizzell, Larry Gatlin, Kenny Sears, Jeannie Seely, Ricky Skags, Steve Wariner, The Whites.
Thottie West: Vol. 1, discography for Scottie West: a modern tribute to Dottie West is making waves on SoundCloud surfing to nearly 1500 streams from its eight tracks. Most popular is “Here Comes My Baby”. Gardner joins the bandwagon-- since it’s original 1964 release co-written with West’s husband, the track has been recorded by more than 100 artists including Dean Martin (1965), Jimmy Dean the following year, Lynn Anderson from the album “Songs That Made Country Girls Famous” (1970).
Gardner’s project can be accessed at https://soundcloud.com/scottiewest