When the first jet hit the north tower on the morning of September 11th, 2001, I was in Illinois welcoming my students into Anatomy class. I was a rookie high school biological sciences teacher fresh out of college and still wet behind the ears. Up until that day, life was getting simple, teaching cell biology and dissecting frogs during the week and rocking classic country music tunes in a cover band on the weekend. But just like for everyone else, that all changed that sunny September morning.
I remember being enraged. On that first night, as I lie awake in bed, I was determined to join the military. The next day, I began researching. My first stop would be Officer Training School. For this, back then, I needed letters of recommendation. An old family friend was a General in the Army, and so I arranged a meeting so he could interview me. At the meeting we talked about his son in the Army and already in Afghanistan, my new teaching career, and I sang him a song I'd written about 9/11 called "American Life". The next day or so after the meeting he agreed to write the letter, but he asked me to consider something else first. He asked me instead to consider using my musicianship to support the military effort. He said something that has stuck with me ever since. He said, "You would only be one soldier, but that one song you wrote could positively effect hundreds or thousands of soldiers. We don't really need more soldiers. We need people to tell our stories." Long story short, I took that to heart and have tried to do that ever since.
Fast forward to 2003, as my cousin Jacob was rolling into Iraq with the Marines, I was onstage at Fort Campbell, performing at a going away party for the 101st, one of many I'd be playing. Going away parties, welcome home parties, awards ceremonies, and eventually...funerals and Gold Star fundraisers. I opened for Zac Brown when he was still leading a 3-piece band. I opened for Kid Rock, Willie Nelson, Montgomery Gentry, Charlie Daniels, Hank Junior, Toby Keith, and yes, Lee F'n Greenwood too.
In 2005, the war finally came home. A high school classmate of mine was a helicopter pilot and was killed in Afghanistan. I wrote the song "Rolling Thunder" for him. In 2006, that song caught the attention of the USO and we were invited to perform for the troops in Germany for Christmas and New Years. The next year we went back to Germany over the 4th of July. Then we hit France, Belgium, The UK, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, before we finally made it to Afghanistan.
In 2015, I released my album entitled Beans & Bullets. It's full of songs written while overseas with the USO. I also included the songs that got me to the dance, American Life and Rolling Thunder. It's now 2021, twenty years after 9/11. My entire professional musical career has occurred in these two decades, and it is also absolutely entwined with Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. So, to commemorate that fact, and to honor and pay tribute to all the men and women of the US military that I've had the honor of meeting and becoming family with, I am releasing this ninth studio album, BOHICA.
Of all the acronyms I've picked up over the years, my favorite has to be BOHICA. It's right up there with SNAFU and FUBAR. BOHICA stands for Bend Over, Here It Comes Again, and it wonderfully encapsulates the soldier's dark dry sense of humor and resignation to "The Suck". Musicians and soldiers have a lot in common, especially when it comes to humor. Hurry Up And Wait was probably coined by a soldier, but could have just as easily been coined by a musician. And BOHICA cuts straight to my musician's black heart. All the shady dealings, break downs, getting stiffed, bounced checks, and coke-head dive bar owners with .38 Specials stuck in their back belt for all the world to feel. We do this thing because we love it and we love the people we do it for, not because we're gonna get rich doing it. I think soldiers can relate all too well. Like it says in the song, "I may not miss the circus, but I sure do miss the clowns."
So this album is called BOHICA, and it's for all of you soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines out there, past and present, here and abroad. It's for the cops, bikers, firemen, musicians, EMT's, truckers, hunters, craftsmen, cowboys, farmers, and all you other blue-collar sons-a-bitches, working hard, sacrificing our bodies, speeding our young lives away and taking it in the backside for our family and friends. BOHICA...This one's for you. God Bless and Cheers!
Matt Poss (March 17th, 2021)
The night I met Matt Poss, he wasn't performing. He was just there, hanging out, at a black tie fundraiser in downtown Chicago. Matt was the only guy there without a black tie on. The scruffy beard, dirty jeans, pearl snaps, shit brown cowboy hat and scuffed up brown leather boots made him look like a neon sign down some abandoned blacktop road at midnight. A Midwestern version of Crocodile Dundee, out of place, but right at home. How did he even get through the door? I knew we were going to be friends before I even met the guy.
For a decade now, Matt Poss has been busy touring through nearly every state in the Union and through fourteen countries, just being himself, making honky-tonk music that’s equal parts uncompromising and empathetic. Poss was born and raised in the corn and bean fields of Southern Illinois, surrounded by truck stops and limited opportunities, so it makes sense that his music often gives voice to those who exist on the margins of modern life. Matt is fond of saying that Steve Earle ruined his life, in the best way possible. Matt says, "When I finally heard songs like 'Someday' and 'Guitar Town' it was like Steve was singing my life back to me. And I knew that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to write and sing peoples' lives back to them."
Since first emerging as a solo artist in the mid 00’s, this Black-Dirt, Midwestern-bred singer/songwriter has steadily advanced from playing nearly empty dive bar rooms to touring with the likes of Blackberry Smoke, Shooter Jennings, and Jason Boland. With his latest effort, BOHICA, Poss reaffirms his commitment to creating music with purpose and passion. The follow up to 2017's Beans & Bullets - Live & Reloaded, this new release deepens the spirit of solidarity that has long guided his every endeavor. Rooted in a relentlessly Midwestern Country-Rock sound, BOHICA is at once a tribute to and a call to arms for his blue collar brothers and sisters. Veterans, bikers, hippies, rednecks, kickers, and cowboy angels are all a part of this growing family. Poss is there to represent, with his powerful baritone voice and lyrics that contain more ideas in a ryhming couplet than many have on a whole album. He attests to the work of self-preservation in an often unbending world, and ultimately leaves the listener with a profound sense of courage.
Give my boy a listen. Better yet, go see one of his high-octane performances and see for yourself what I'm rambling on about. Honky Tonk music ain't dead...it's just been hiding out in The Midwest with the Matt Poss Band.
~ Sean Murphy (Punk Rock Jesus) ~ Chicago, Illinois