It’s been more than 30 years since Scott Wooldridge moved away from Kokomo, but its influence on his music has been tough to relinquish.
The Western High School graduate packed his bags and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to form an alt-country band with his brother in 1983 before trekking to Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the late-90s.
Wooldridge will pay tribute to his Midwestern roots on his tour in support of his first self-titled solo release, which will include a stop in Kokomo on Feb. 28 at Ned’s Corner Pub. He will be joined by fellow Western High School alumni Steve Gaskins and Tom Young of The Crooked Anglers, who will open the show.
With his parents still living in Kokomo and a sister in Tipton, Wooldridge said he is looking forward to returning to play in Kokomo for the first time in 10 years.
“We did a Kickstarter for the solo album and we got a lot of support from the Kokomo area,” Wooldridge said. “Basically I set up this tour as a way to give back to the cities who supported [the album] the most.”
Maintaining alt-country influences like The Jayhawks, Uncle Tupelo and Wilco present in his work with brother, Brian, in the Milwaukee-based Wooldridge Brothers, Scott recently released “Scott Wooldridge” in 2014 after recording over several years.
The new album reflects Wooldridge’s evolution as a musician, using a range of instruments that include violin, viola, harmonium, 12-string guitar, mandolin, pedal steel guitar and electric piano.
“It’s still a very acoustic sound that allows for a lot of space, but there are some nice melodic elements to it,” he said. “It’s a full sound, but not an overpowering one.”
Wooldridge admits Kokomo remains an influence on “Scott Wooldridge,” most notably on the Bob Dylan-inspired title “Highway 31 Revisited.” “When I lived on that street, I could hear the highway roar,” Wooldridge sings, “it was like a strange beat, music never heard before.”
Throughout it all, Scott’s acoustic guitar and vocals tells stories of middle-class meltdowns, coffee shop disconnections and getting tangled up in social networks.
Wooldridge hopes his return to Kokomo can resurrect some of the old memories that shaped him as a person and musician.
“I feel like I’ve maintained pretty close contact with people in Kokomo and I’m pleased to have the chance to play there again,” he said. “A few songs on this album are inspired by my years in Kokomo.”
The show will take place at 8 p.m. and admission is free. For more information on Wooldridge, visit www.scottwooldridge.com
Martin Slagter can be reached at 765-454-8570, email@example.com or on Twitter @slagterm.