John Wesley Satterfield is fond of chopping the “G”s at the end of words. When asked about two of his strongest songs — “Sinking In” from his 2010 self-titled EP and “Appalachian Wind” from his forthcoming album Goodbye Whiskey — his replies, “With ‘Sinkin’ In,’ I say it’s about datin’ bartenders, but it’s one in specific that went down in a ball of flames. And ‘Appalachian Wind’ is very much just about me goin’ to Pisgah to go campin’, needin’ to get out of the city lights.”
As Satterfield talks, he ends five words with the exact same sound: sinkin’, datin’, goin’, campin’, and needin’ (much like “Appalachian”). While his laid-back demeanor and drawl reveal his Midlands roots (he grew up in the small town of Chapin near Columbia), he also spent years stationed off the coast of Maine on the Coast Guard ship Reliance and some time in the trio Woodwork Roadshow in Wilmington, N.C.
His three years in the Coast Guard, which were “cold enough to make you cuss,” helped him appreciate the value of difficult times, both as a person and as a songwriter. “If you go through tough times, it’s a lot easier to vocalize or articulate other tough times or intense situations,” he says. His next adventure takes him to Nashville with local songsmith Mac Leaphart in September, the same month he’ll release Goodbye Whiskey.
Sad songs are the bread and butter of any country songwriter worth his salt, but Satterfield is thankful that Goodbye Whiskey producer Mike Gossin (of the country band Gloriana) let him include one old-timey goofball number on the record, “Get Her Off.” The song’s chorus teases, “I’d love to get her off/Off of my mind for good.” About the song, the knee-slappin’ oddball of the record, Satterfield says, “It’s a nice departure from the norm. You can’t make people sad all the time.”
Over the last year or so, Satterfield has allied himself with a slew of local songsmiths like Mark Bryan, Ryan Bonner, Mac Leaphart, and Reid Stone, playing local clubs, benefits, and special events. He shared the Home Team stage with local colleagues at the Y’all Entertainment launch party on July 29, and he headlines shows at both Home Team BBQ venues this week.
Satterfield looks to insert himself in the Nashville scene as well, and he hopes to avoid the pop clutter by writing songs like his idols did. “My dad brought me up singing Harry Chapin, Jim Croce, and Bob Dylan,” he recalls. “And those guys write about things that seem personal but aren’t. They’re universal. They just have an ability to tap into broad things that are relatable without being clichéd.”