Murray, Ky., is home to a thriving local music scene. One of the bands that has emerged from that scene is The Savage Radley, a folk trio that honors the southern storytelling tradition through its lyrics.
“The name The Savage Radley came from the book, To Kill a Mockingbird,” says singer/songwriter Shaina Goodman. “’To Kill a Mockingbird’ was the first book I read that I realized words can have deeper meaning than how they’re presented. The way Harper Lee went about that and how it ties in to her relationships to the South and what she had to say about it, I think are elements that I always wanted to portray in my own work.
“I have a responsibility to talk about hard things in the south,” says Goodman. “And to talk about the beautiful things and the good people that are here.”
Goodman and her bandmates met when she was a philosophy student at Murray State, and started playing shows on campus.
“Growing up in Murray, I was really fortunate to be a part of a really good band program that taught me a lot about music,” says drummer S. Knox Montgomery. “It’s a college town more than anything else, and they have the big music school.”
Beyond the university, The Savage Radley have found a welcoming environment for their music around Murray.
“There’s a record store called Terrapin Station and that’s really the epicenter,” says Montgomery. “It’s a free place to kind of express whatever you want express. You can play really loud, aggressive music there and the crowd’s probably going to enjoy it. You can strip everything back and do a really laid back set and the crowd’s probably going to enjoy it. Having that is a super valuable asset to the community.”
“The Savage Radley, if I can identify it as a sound, there seems to be this nostalgic sound for western Kentucky,” says guitarist Matthew Rowman “Not just limited to the people in western Kentucky but also the scenery and the various feelings that you get living here, being raised here.”
“Because a lot of the material is focused around the river where I’m from, the Mississippi, I called it Delta Folk,” says Goodman. “I’m originally from Hickman, which is a small little river town on the Mississippi, most western tip of Kentucky. Hickman has been very influential on how I view the world and on how I write my music. There’s a lot of elements to my last record, Kudzu, that are very specific to where I’m from. I feel like they’re really powerful images, and I don’t think that just because they’re very specific to where I grew up that other people can’t imagine them and understand their value like I do.”
This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2411 which originally aired on April 6, 2019. Watch the full episode here.