Performing in front of the home folks is a decided advantage in the world of sports.
Apparently, though, the same doesn’t exactly hold true in the music world. Or, at least, it doesn’t for Charlie Sizemore.
“It makes me nervous,” Sizemore, a Magoffin County native and Bluegrass recording star, said of his upcoming hometown concert date.
“It’s always a little more pressure when I play there,” he added. “You know the people and you want to give them a good show. Plus, most of the people there know music and they know when you get it right and when you get it wrong. I’m gonna have to bring my A game.”
Sizemore, son of Henry Clay Sizemore and Mildred Sizemore, was born on Puncheon Creek in Magoffin County and graduated from Salyersville High School.
Music, from an early age, was always a big part of his life, and he has always been a big part of music.
Sizemore started fiddling at age six, played lead guitar with Lum Patton, toured with the Goins Brothers, and at age 17 replaced Keith Whitley as lead singer for the legendary Ralph Stanley, a gig he held for nine years while performing on over a dozen albums.
Between recording sessions and touring gigs, Sizemore found time for higher education, an area where he also excelled.
First at Prestonsburg Community College then at the University of Kentucky, Sizemore graduated with honors and a Political Science degree before continuing on through law school. He is now eligible to practice law in Kentucky and Tennessee.
But the love of music remained a constant and in 2007, on the Rounder label, Sizemore released one of his most highly acclaimed projects, an album titled Good News.
The album, the first in five years from the Charlie Sizemore Band, debuted in October 2007 at number 14 on the Bluegrass Unlimited Charts and proceeded to spend nine straight months in the top 10.
Alison’s Band, a single off Good News, climbed to the top of the charts and spent nine months in the top 10, three being as the number one song.
Alison’s Band received an IBMA Song of the Year nomination and Sizemore, along with co-writer Buddy Cannon, was nominated for Best Liner Notes for Recorded Song.
Sizemore, who hit number one a few years back with That’s How I Got To Memphis, and his band mates are currently working on another album he hopes to complete by late August or early September.
“We’re doing enough to keep it fun,” he said. “It hasn’t turned into work yet, but music to me has never been like work. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed.”
He has played dates from one coast to another with plenty of stops in between. The Charlie Sizemore Band, which recorded a tribute album to Tom T. Hall that also broke into the top 10, has also performed in Canada and throughout the upper Midwest.
The band’s summer tour schedule includes a stop August 15 in Salyersville where Sizemore will perform during Magoffin County Community Day.
“I’ve played a few times in Magoffin County and it has always been a pleasant experience,” he said. “You know the people and you want to give them a show they can enjoy.”
With all his success and nationwide acclaim, Sizemore has remained personable and modest through it all.
“It’s impossible for me to get the big head when I know that I’m maybe the sixth or seventh best from just my home county,” he said. “I never realized just how much talent was there until I left there.”
Leaving home to chase a dream isn’t exactly a true account of Sizemore’s career path. He was basically out to play a little music with those who shared a similar passion.
“I just got lucky,” Sizemore said of his music career. “It’s an incredibly tough business. It’s not easy. But I never orchestrated or designed a plan for any of it. Everything just seemed to happen for me.
“Sometimes the stars have to align themselves just right and you have to take advantage of any breaks you get. And sometimes the breaks don’t come.”
Practicing law often brings him back to the Salyersville area, giving him a chance to see old friends and keep up with hometown happenings.
But this time family, friends, and fans of great Bluegrass music will flock to Ramey Memorial Park to see and hear the one they call The Puncheon Creek Boy.
And somewhere close by will no doubt be one of his biggest fan, supporter, and unofficial promoter.
“I am so proud of him,” Henry Clay Sizemore said of his son. “Not because of his music or because of his academic success, but because he was always, and still is, a fellow of sterling character.
“He left home at 17 to travel the country with Ralf Stanley but I never worried one minute about that boy. He understood right from wrong at an early age and he always tried to do the right thing and the smart thing.”