Over the line to cover the Huntington scene

It recently came to our attention that Taylor Kuykendall and his friend Cory Jackson had combined to put together a book on the Huntington scene with their photos and words. The book, Sometimes You Find Yourself Over the Line, features photos of rockin’ Huntington acts that Kuykendall got while blogging about local bands for the Huntington Herald-Dispatch, and brief bios on the acts provided by Jackson.

We caught up with Kuykendall to learn more about the book and what’s up with him these days.

WVRS: What are you doing in Mississippi, when did you get there and how do you like it?
TK: I came to Mississippi looking for a job following some big layoffs at the Herald-Dispatch in Huntington. I felt that with only two months left to finish school and no job, it was time to finish up at Marshall and start exploring. My passion is to learn and tell stories, musical and otherwise. So, I applied for jobs across the nation. I got a call back at a few places and came down here for a visit. I fell in love with the blues culture here in the Delta and saw this as a wonderful opportunity to explore a culture and place I really knew nothing about.

I came to the Delta for the same reason I came to Huntington from Moorefield, W.Va.; I wanted to experience more that what I had. I work at the Greenwood Commonwealth as a reporter and photographer now, and getting to know a whole new group of people and music scene has been incredibly exciting. How could I ever aspire to be a writer if I have no experiences? That’s exactly where I am in life now. I am soaking in every new thing I can find and right now I’m just in the Mississippi phase of that exploration.

WVRS: What gave you the idea to compile your photos into a scene book?
TK: Sitting in Mississippi, I began to miss the music and friends from Huntington. At the same time, I constantly ran over these reminders of what I was doing there. Some people flip through their high school yearbook to try to relive some sort of abstract sense of nostalgia, but honestly, my high school yearbook doesn’t do that for me. I guess what I wanted was something more tangible to remember what I -- what everyone I associated with in Huntington -- was experiencing during a few random months. It may not mean much to the world, it may not mean much to Huntington, but it means a lot to me and hopefully my friends.

WVRS: What was it like working with Cory Jackson of The Good Fight on the book?
TK: Cory was a huge inspiration through his music, writing, friendship, and general debauchery. If I hadn’t met and become friends with this guy I may not have switched to journalism, wouldn’t have become as involved in the music scene and could have been homeless for the last two weeks I spent in Huntington.

WVRS: You covered Huntington through the H-D TSMS blog, what was the experience like doing that? Pros/cons?
TK: Though I garnered a few compliments for that blog, I felt that I never really gave it the justice it deserved. I wish I would’ve written more. I wish I promoted it more. It was just so hard to write for something when it felt like no one was reading it. It came to the point where I was trying to structure a story that would get attention and I found it hard to write smaller, probably more useful updates, just to get the word out that the blog existed.

I really hope that one day Huntington can appreciate the glut of musicians that are so dense in that city. It’s a wonderful scene with a terribly fickle audience. I had fun at the blog in its high points, but there were spots where it felt like I was pouring a lot of energy into something that only a handful of people would end up reading. Now, I know those few people that were reading it were the ones that mattered anyway.

WVRS: You’ve got a ton of bands in the book, any particular favorites? You’ve got Jeff Ellis first, it looked like.
TK: It would be hard to pick a favorite. All of the featured bands -- Jeff Ellis, Bud Carroll, Attack Flamingo, Jordan Andrew Jefferson, Browning Automatics, The Good Fight, Whirling Dervish, 40 lb Snapper, Mark Smith, Benji Taylor, Vance Lintlock, Sarasota, Qiet, Luke Jivetalker, Good Ol’ Boys and a Girl and Bad Employees were favorites of mine that I know needed to be highlighted. Believe it or not A LOT of guys were left out. These were the ones I feel like are making the heaviest impact.

I can’t really name a favorite of those, but I will say that the first couple selections have a lot more to do with the way the rest of the scene interacted with those artists. They made a big impact, especially Ellis, Carroll and Sean Knisely from Attack Flamingo. It was hard to pick the order because they were all people I would call friends and great musicians. The order, after the first few, is completely random though.

WVRS: Taking the Huntington scene and MU as a whole, what do you think about "the scene" and the people you met or knew covering the bands?
TK: The Marshall/Huntington scene is a young one. They’re still trying to figure out their collective style. Most notably is a lack of music business in the area. The musicians are there and I think a record executive or label could potentially make a lot of money if they spend a few weeks in Huntington.

WVRS: What were your experiences putting it together, and plans or goals for getting the book out?
TK: Putting it together was fairly easy. It was like a pictorial walkthrough of some great moments in my life. As far as getting the book out, I’m going to try to sell a few copies online and then hopefully get enough capital to put the book in local stores in Huntington. Of course, if WVRockscene knows any interested investors, my ears are wide open.

Sometimes You Find Yourself Over the Line can be previewed here. Taylor can be reached at taylor.kuykendall@gmail.com.

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