I grew up in the Andy Griffith Show-esque small town of Danville–the dead center of Kentucky. Eighty miles north of my hometown bubble, Louisville, Kentucky was slowly becoming an epicenter of groundbreaking post-punk with the likes of Slint and Rodan gaining global notoriety. Years later, Kentucky’s biggest known band My Morning Jacket would release its first album, officially putting the state on the musical map.
Kentucky’s music was blossoming all around me. Squirrel Bait’s post-hardcore breakout brought the first wave of attention to Louisville, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy became a folk legend, and even electro pop from VHS or Beta managed to break out nationally. But Danville was an insular place to grow up, and magic like that never made it into my day-to-day.
It wasn’t until I moved back to Kentucky in 2009 that I had my first true connection between a band, the state that raised me, and the building of my own personality. The first time I saw The Deloreans I left the show with one thought: “This is the best band in the world…and nobody outside of Louisville knows about them.” Reactionary as that may have been at the time, I still think The Deloreans are the best hidden secret in music today, seven years later.
The music of The Deloreans is much like the character of Kentucky: a blending of diverse elements filled with a style all its own. Frontman Jeremy Perry combines his 1950s crooner vocals with a rock style that blends 70s and 90s rock influences. The music can blast from soft to loud in a heartbeat and is always out front of its listener to keep them on their toes.
The band themselves are a perfect representation of Kentucky, because each member defies the awful stereotypes people sometimes have of the state they call home. There’s a mystical quality here, where delightfully bizarre characters can bloom and where artists regularly find their voice. Each member of the Deloreans embodies that Kentucky quality, and in doing so, defies the awful stereotypes people sometimes have of the state. Drummer Meg Samples and keyboardist Zack Driscoll both studied jazz at U of L, while Loren Pilcher (lead guitar) is a social worker and one the most well-read individuals I’ve ever met. Mann works as an audio/visual editor for an advertising agency, while Perry presses vinyl records at Palomino Records.
Each member was born in Kentucky and I selected them as the representative for this state because the quality of their music exceeds any preconceived notion of the sound that’s supposed to come from this region. In a fair world they would be a household name, but no matter what fate holds for them, The Deloreans will always be the best of Kentucky for me.
This is one of more than 50 posts that make up our musical map of the United States, published by region—the West, Midwest, South, and Northeast—by writers who have strongly associated a song with a state.