GREENFIELD — The filtered photograph on the cover of the CD pictures singer-songwriters Modlin and Scott with their guitar cases, standing in front of the Bluebird Café in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Bluebird has long been known as a hot spot for up and coming singer-songwriters, and the two are privileged to have played there a number of times. But they don’t consider themselves up and coming — not anymore. The duo of Hancock County natives, and their Americana style, is here to say.
Modlin and Scott, the musicians behind the recently-released CD “One More Chance to Play” are Dan Modlin and Dave Scott, two Hancock County natives who have known each other since their little league days in New Palestine. They began playing music together while they were students at New Palestine High School. Their first band in 1966 was called Poverty Programme. In 1976, they released an album called “The Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore.”
“It didn’t do much,” Scott said. “It got some airtime, and then it faded away.”
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And life moved on. But the drive to make music didn’t.
In 2006, a pop culture writer came out with a book “The Acid Archives,” a compendium of independent record labels and album releases from the 1960s and ’70s; it mentioned Modlin and Scott’s LP, and suddenly, copies of the duo’s albums were going for $400 on eBay. “The Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore” suddenly became a cult classic.
In the 40 years since the release of their album, the singer-songwriters have kept in touch, and they still put their heads together to make the music they love. Modlin now works as news director for public radio at Western Kentucky University, and Scott oversees the Hancock County Visitors Bureau in Greenfield.
In 2013, the renewed success of their 1976 album got the two thinking about another album. In spite of the 250 miles between them, the magic of digital technology allowed them to collaborate on ideas across cyberspace, sending music files back and forth over the internet.
In 2015, they released all new original music with “One More Chance to Play.” In addition to Modlin and Scott’s vocals, guitar and harmonica, the CD also features locals Gregg Hall (electric guitar), Bill Huffman (trumpet) and Jerry DeRome, who played drums on “The Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore.”
The CD of neo-folk music, sometimes called Americana, features 13 original songs, mostly ballads, about moments in history and desperate characters. Modlin and Scott sing about Jack McCall, who famously shot Wild Bill Hickok, about a wagon train leaving St. Joe, Missouri, bound for a new life in the west, and “The Night the Lights Went Out,” a tribute to Texas singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver.
Modlin and Scott opened for the Black Lillies in November at the Ricks Center for the Arts in Greenfield and have since played multiple dates in Kentucky and Tennessee, including the exclusive Bluebird Café, a launch pad to several nationally known stars including Kathy Mattea, Garth Brooks and John Prine.
“It’s the one place that every songwriter in the world wants to play,” Modlin said.
In the meantime, “One More Chance to Play” has gotten airplay in the states in Texas, Michigan and North Carolina and internationally in Australia, Germany, Greece, Belgium and the United Kingdom. It has climbed to the top five on the Air Play Direct Global American Album Download Top 50 chart, and it has sold out twice on CD Baby, an online music distribution company.
“The respect test,” Scott said, “is that it’s getting airplay all around the world — and that’s pretty good for a couple of boys from New Pal.”
“One More Chance to Play” has received positive reviews from Roots Music Review and The Amplifier, both of which note that Modlin and Scott sing about real life.
Modlin said he learned firsthand that their music touches people when he played “Good Man Down,” a ballad about life on the police force, at the Bluebird one evening.
“I played that song the night of the Baton Rouge police shooting,” Modlin said. “Afterwards, a man came up and told me that his partner had been killed in the line of duty. We write fiction, but this was real life.”
Both musicians agree a huge part of their success comes from the guiding hand of Moe Whittemore, the sound engineer at 700 West Recording Studio in New Palestine, where both of their CDs were recorded.
“Moe is a genius. He taught us so much when we were young that gave us the confidence to do another project,” Modlin said.
The pair’s CD is available on Amazon and locally at the Greenfield Music Center, 1215 E. Main St.