Highway 29 drops for Jack McKeon

Jack McKeon is a singer and songwriter from upstate New York, now relocated in Nashville, who admits that his raising in Chatham is a long way from the center of the bluegrass and roots music world where he now resides. With his debut album, Talking To Strangers, due next month, he has a second single releasing tomorrow, which shows that his studies in American literature haven’t gone to waste.

Highway 29 tells of what is lost when the world moves on from the past. It’s a deeply thoughtful and evocative song that envisions a hard working family who were uprooted when the new highway comes through, leaving nothing but a tiny plot where the family’s dead are buried.

Describing the genesis of the song, McKeon says…

“More than once while driving around Nashville, I noticed small patches of headstones, partitioned off by chain link fences and tucked just off of major highways. It isn’t hard to notice how rapidly Nashville’s development has progressed, and I became fascinated by imagining what was there in the not too distant past

Later, I found a Tennessean article that stated that according to the law, we have a right to a memorial, but that doesn’t necessarily enshrine burial spots with permanent rights. In one case, developers had to bear the burden of moving an old family graveyard prior to clearing the land they wanted to build on. They had the right to do this because, according to documents quoted in the article, ‘the land was for the living.’

That quote floored me, and from there I tried to write a song about disappearing farmland, the city encroaching on what was once untouched. It’s a bit of a generational, first-person cousin to [previous single] Last Slice of Heaven.”

With a voice that perfectly suits this song, Jack receives support from Justin Moses on banjo and reso-guitar, Ashby Frank on mandolin, Christian Sedelmyer on fiddle, and Vickie Vaughn on bass.

Have a listen…

McKeon is a songwriter to be reckoned with, and we are eager to hear more from Talking To Strangers, which releases on June 21.

Highway 29 will be available on May 17 from popular download and streaming services online. Radio programmers can reach out to Allison Mahal with IVPR to obtain an airplay copy of the single.

Share this:

About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.