Drayton Farley’s career has come a long way over the past few years, but everyone’s gotta start somewhere.
The Woodstock, Alabama native has been playing music in some capacity for most of his life, but initially more of a hobby than anything, it spent several years on the backburner.
Going straight into the workforce following his high school graduation, Farley worked a handful of dead end jobs, including a grueling stint on the railroad with Norfolk Southern and a job at a grocery store, that left him unsatisfied and struggling mentally; an aspect of his journey that he frequently shares at his live shows in the context of some of the songs he has written as a result.
The Jump To Music
It wasn’t until 2018, several years following his high school graduation, that the now 27 year old artist decided to take a chance and release original music with his debut single “Trouble in the Pines.” He followed that up with his debut album Hargrove & Sweet Southern Sadness – The Early Extended Plays in 2020 before quickly releasing his second album A Hard Up Life in 2021.
Experiencing relative virality with his blue collar anthem “American Dream (Hard Up),” Farley released a handful of singles throughout the rest of 2021 leading up to his six-track Walk Home – EP.
With the word out on Farley’s talents, and substantial momentum on his side, Farley took the next leap in his career with the release of his first full band record Twenty on High, one of the best releases of 2023 thus far. And as if that wasn’t enough, Farley OurVinyl Sessions EP dropped just over a month later, shortly before his third project of 2023 hit streaming platforms with the Kudzu Wild EP just last month.
Slowly but surely, people have begun to latch on to Farley’s innate vocal ability, clever lyricism, and brooding authenticity, and as of late, with a rapidly growing fanbase and ever improving catalog, his career has really been taking off.
It is no easy feat for a musician, though, especially one working a day job, to endure such a grind and come out on the other side on top.
But now, with well over a million monthly listeners, a busy touring schedule full of sold out headlining shows, festival dates, and big time opening slots, and plenty of killer new music, Farley is truly hitting his stride, and it’s obvious that the masses are beginning to take note.
While his trajectory appears to be getting steeper and steeper, and his music continues to blow up, the sky’s the limit for Farley. But it definitely didn’t always feel that way for him.
In a recent heartfelt post to his Instagram, Farley reflected upon the last few years of his career and shared an old video of him playing at a coffee shop four years ago to show how far he’s come.
Give Drayton Farley’s message a read for yourself below:
October 2019 – Greensboro, Alabama
“This is me at a coffee shop in Greensboro, Alabama in October of 2019. I was immensely depressed and mentally reaching a “make or break” moment trying to find the courage to turn a passion into a profession. There were maybe 10 people there that night. At least 4 or 5 of them were my family and they showed up with me. I played for 3 hours. I played all of my own songs and filled the rest with the songs of artists that have inspired me.
This is what I did every night that I could after working my day job. It was all on repeat. It was the same few bars, coffee shops, and Mexican restaurants back to back. Any place that was willing to throw a hundred dollar bill my way in exchange for me sitting in their corner for 3-4 hours playing music, mostly to a handful of people eating dinner or watching a ball game on tv and not hardly looking my way until they realized a song ended and they found the decency to fake a clap.
Some nights it was to absolutely nobody but the bar tender. Some nights it wasn’t worth the gas it took. Most nights I wondered if I was just wasting my time but there wasn’t ever a night that I thought I couldn’t do it. It’s the dreamer mentality. It’s the passion. I absolutely love this and this is exactly what I was meant for.
I didn’t grow up around musicians, I’m the first person in my family to play music. I didn’t have connections to Nashville or any other music scenes. I grew up as just a kid playing his guitar in the back bedroom of a single wide trailer in a tiny little town in the middle of Alabama.
If you would’ve told this kid in that coffee shop that in the next four years he’d be playing on the Grand Ole Opry or singing “I’ll Fly Away” on stage with Willie Nelson, or providing for his family by writing his own songs he’d say “If I could ever find a way to quit this day job”…
I just wanted to share this and say thank you for believing in me and hopefully encourage the next kid playing in a coffee shop. It’s been a very good year and I couldn’t be more thankful for it all. There’s always a way, you just have to keep dreaming.”
Well, I don’t know that there are many out there more deserving of success than Farley, and it’s been great to see him finally beginning to experience a fraction of the success and recognition that he deserves.
There’s not much better than seeing the good guys when, and Farley sure is one of them. If you’re late on the Drayton Farley train, here are a few of my favorites to get you started.
“Above My Head”
And make sure you catch him live soon, too. Farley’s got more than 20 shows left on the schedule for the remainder of 2023, and if he’s coming to a city near you, you’re not going to want to miss it.
10/5 – Raccoon Motel – Davenport, IA *
10/6 – The Rave Bar – Milwaukee, WI *
10/7 – Chaska Cares Music Fest & Fundraiser – Chaska, MN
10/9 – Wooly’s – Des Moines, IA +
10/11 – Knuckleheads – Kansas City, MO ^
10/12 – George’s Majestic Lounge – Fort Smith, AR ^
10/13 – Rose Music Hall – Columbia, MO +
10/19 – Elevation 27 – Virginia Beach, VA ~
10/20 – Charleston Pour House – Charleston, SC %
10/21 – Greenville Country Music Festival – Simpsonville, SC
10/26 – Lafayette’s Music Room – Memphis, TN ^
10/27 – Soul Kitchen Music Hall – Mobile, AL >@
11/9 – The Hall – Little Rock, AR #
11/10 – Cain’s Ballroom – Tulsa, OK #
11/11 – McAlester Street Festival – McAlester, OK
11/14 – Duling Hall – Jackson, MS %
11/16 – Blue Light – Lubbock, TX %
11/17 – Magnolia Motor Lounge – Fort Worth, TX %
11/18 – Hank’s Texas Grill% – McKinney, TX %
11/30 – Bluebird – Bloomington, IN %
12/1 – Mahall’s – Lakewood, OH %
12/2 – The Basement – Columbus, OH %
12/9 – Saturn Birmingham – Birmingham, AL %@
6/25/2024 – Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO =
*w/ The Weathered Souls
+w/ Zach Russell
^w/ Jonathan Peyton
~w/ Eddie Flint
%w/ Brit Taylor
>Co-headline w/ Wyatt Flores
@w/ Kainen Kellum
#Supporting Paul Cauthen
=Supporting Ryan Bingham with the Texas Gentleman and Jamestown Revival