Send It Slam Artist Feature: Dalton Mills
First of a series: GoWild Cofounder, CEO, Brad Luttrell is sharing the stories behind how GoWild came to work with each Send It Slam artist.
The first time I met Dalton Mills, I knew my guitar was coming out of the trunk.
A few beer cans sat around the room, near casualties waiting for someone to finish them off. My buddy, Dave Shoemaker, had just put on a fresh vinyl. I can’t recall what exactly, but it was in the neighborhood of sorrowful and the era of The Band. Blaze Foley seems a likely choice.
As my lifelong best friend, Blake Carpenter, let out one of his trademark belly laughs, in walked a guy wearing a Carharrt tshirt, boots and what looked to me like a fine stetson hat.
This was the moment I met Dalton Mills.
I’ve never known much about cowboy hats, as I don’t know much about cowboying. But if Dalton had been a guitar picker action figure, you’d have sworn that hat was a part of the original package, along with the guitar he had by his side.
Everyone in the room could pick a guitar and sing a little, and I knew Dave was especially talented. After a dose of courage, I decided to grab my guitar and jam with these guys.
The first song we played was “Atlantic City” because that’s what three hillbillies gravitate to when you hand them all guitars. After that, I don’t really recall what all we played. We laughed, and I remember thinking, “that Dalton guy was something else” when I left.
As well as my foggy memory can recollect, that was the first night I heard a Dalton original. He came into his song “John on the Run,” with a few finger rolls on the strings, and began what I can only describe as nearly yodeling. His voice whirls into cracks like a whip, and comes back into a soft conversational rasp. In some ways, he reminds of a turkey’s finesse—they can lay down the softest clucks and purrs, only to be followed by pure prehistoric fury. While Dalton doesn’t quite approach ferocious feathered dinosaur, his voice certainly yelps at you.
Since that day in Dave’s living room, Dalton has released an EP and his self titled album and I’ve seen him play several times. His songs hold your attention like a fish pondering its appetite for your topwater frog. I love his songs like “Tornadoes” because in some ways, it’s a blue collar anthem any of us can relate to. But it’s also introspective. I also just like that the guitar hammer ons and rolls up and down the guitar neck like a tornado. “Outta Tune” is another that highlights Dalton’s talent for beautiful picking, complex concepts and whiplash vocal cracks.
And, if you listen well, you can even hear my buddy Dave singing harmony on "Sometimes Love" and "As Long As You Want Me To."
Some may think I just asked Dalton to perform at Send It Slam because I’m an Eastern Kentucky guy, and he is, too. Heck, even further related, we both grew up in Middlesboro, Ky. But that alone isn’t it. I asked Dalton to kick off Send It Slam because this guy represents what Kentucky does well. Our state often makes news for the adversity we face, but I tell you what, those hard times create some of the best songwriters in the country.
Show up on time for Send It Slam, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
About the Author
Brad Luttrell is the Cofounder, CEO of GoWild. His career has taken him through journalism, advertising, technology and the outdoor industry. All along the way, he’s had a guitar in his trunk and a song in his head.