By LUDMILA POLYAKOVA
For BG Independent News
Corey Baum picked up his guitar in second grade and has yet to set it down. Baum has been creating music as long as he can remember, from first taking guitar lessons to playing the upright bass in the Kenwood Elementary Orchestra—that’s right, he’s a Bowling Green native—which eventually led to a music scholarship to Bowling Green State University.
Along the way, Baum has had a rap persona (The Suave Farmer) and a hip-hop group (IDB Rangers), played drums for a punk outfit (Bullet Teeth), and was the front man for two indie rock bands (The Press Gang, Stop Don’t Stop). And that’s just to name a few.
In 2007, Baum started a new project and called himself Taber Maine. “That’s when I started to get serious about myself as a songwriter.”
Baum had been writing songs that were hard to categorize, and began to channel a southern, Appalachian sound. Taber Maine inspired Baum to move to Austin, Texas, where the vibrant, progressive country music scene has helped him grow into the artist he is today.
“In Ohio I was an observer of it,” he said. “Moving down here, I became a direct participant. My joke is always that I moved to Austin calling myself a country artist, but I was actually a folk artist.”
Taber Maine was a character; he played rough cowboy-sounding songs fueled by late nights and whisky. But like the many iterations of Baum, it led him to the next phase. “Coming down here, I just felt like my songwriting became more honest, so I didn’t need that persona anymore,” he explained.
Baum took his sound from acoustic-folk to full on, honky-tonk country. He began playing under his given name, and when he felt ready to have a band behind him, he adopted the nickname “Croy” to form Croy and the Boys.
Croy and The Boys will play Black Swamp Arts Festival on Sunday at the Main Stage, 11 a.m., and the Community Stage at 2 p.m. The band features Baum on vocals and guitar, Amy Hawthorne on Bass, Steve Carlson on lead guitar, and Felipe Granados on drums.
Baum is eager to share this new sound with his hometown. “I’ve never been up with a full band in Bowling Green,” he said. “I’m really, really excited to do that.”
His homecoming is part of a Midwest tour supporting the release of Croy and the Boys’ debut album titled Hey, Come Back. Baum described this album as “the record of his dreams,” crafted with a band he loves and guided by his favorite producer. The festival crowd will have the chance to purchase the album before its official release on October 28th.
While change has been a constant for his musical self, Baum feels like he has found a niche sound, and is excited at its potential.
This is not the kind of country music you often hear on the radio. It is not the sound that’s been co-opted by pop and modern country, and it is certainly not a caricature of small-town life that just does not exist anymore.
“When we first started doing this, there wasn’t an audience for it, and people didn’t understand what we were trying to do,” he said. “What is this exactly? This doesn’t sound like country music, but we’re calling it country music.” Baum compares this sound to the country music that happened in the fifties and sixties, naming Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price, and Jason Isbell as contemporary artists helping expand the scene on a national level.
“The exciting thing that’s happening is that young passionate songwriters are using country music to tell real stories and talk about real things, and represent who we are and where we’re from,” he said. “It’s making country music a vital, living genre.”
Croy and the Boys are bringing their passion to Black Swamp Arts Festival this weekend—festivalgoers, be sure to strap on your dancing shoes for this rowdy set!