The mountains of Eastern Kentucky have a rich musical tradition intertwined with the harsh realities of coal mining and the ever present natural beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle and Dwight Yoakum are all from this region of America.
Martin, Kentucky is one of those small American towns which sprung up around coal mining and the railroad and over the years continued to exist as a small pit stop off the highway. The dusty streets and crisp mountain air hide the desperation felt as the coal industry moved to strip mining mountain tops.
The magic that created great musicians is still there. Bart grew up listening to his dad play violin and the mandolin. The mountains of that area of the country echo with hundreds of years of bluegrass and country music, so it’s no surprise that music was in his blood.
One of his first memories is pulling down a gravel drive to arrive at the workshop of the man who created his father’s prized possession, a mandolin. As his feet hit the ground and he walked up the stairs to the second story workshop, he was entranced by the sound coming from within. The smell of wood shavings and cigarette smoke permeated the air as he climbed the stairs and entered a menagerie of instruments hanging along the walls and strewn across the workshop table. He was hooked and the fine woods used to craft the instruments buried in his memory.
As Bart grew up music become more and more of an influence and the early morning rides with his Dad were filled with bluegrass from John Prine played on the tape deck in his father’s work truck. Bart played the guitar while southern rock, country and bluegrass rattled around in his head as he tried to concentrate on his school work.
Music had become the way he expressed himself.
When at 13 his best friend killed himself, Bart turned to music for relief, but it wasn’t enough and drugs soon filled in the places where the music couldn’t go. Drugs are a temptation for many musicians and they have a way of infecting the lives of those around them. Sometimes, for a while, they seem to make life seem more vivid and worthy, but usually end up robbing the emotion and masking the pain. Eventually, drugs took away the music and left only a shell.
When he was about 20 years old, Bart’s family intervened and told him they didn’t know who he was anymore. Bart couldn’t disagree, knowing that he didn’t know himself. After a brief attempt to clean up Bart descended into a lifestyle meant for washed up county singers and outlaws. But a 21-year-old kid can hardly pull that life off. Eventually drugs took everything away and Bart hit the first of many bottoms.
Today, Bart is clean and the music has returned. Now Bart plays his guitar in front of addicts at the open mic night at the rehab he attended, a long way from the rundown bars he played in while using drugs. He has repaired his relationships with his family and now sees a future in helping others.
While the story of his past is interesting, his future isn’t yet written. But finding his musical ability and interest again means a lot and sharing his recovery with others is something he finds important.
“I had to do something,” says Bart. “I remember calling and speaking with the staff and explaining how miserable I was. I couldn’t continue living this way. I had to do something”. A week later he was in treatment.
His story goes on, but it’s best to read on in Bart’s own words.
“I want to start off by saying this program has both saved and changed my life. Before I came here, my life had lost its purpose and direction. I found myself at an all-time low and wasn’t sure who I really was anymore. I had lost touch with the things I loved in life such as family, friends and most of all my love of music. To say the least, my life seemed to have no meaning or direction.
The week before I came to Narconon, I realized I couldn’t continue living this way. I had to do something! I remember calling and speaking with the staff at Narconon and explaining how miserable I was living the way I was living. I had gotten into significant legal trouble in the prior months and knew more was to come if I didn’t do something soon.
So I did. I decided that alcohol and drugs were not going to ruin my life any longer! I made a stand and fought for what I knew I wanted and that was a happy, successful, and sober life. Narconon gave me this and so much more. They helped me resolve legal issues in the best possible way.
The staff went above and beyond their call of duty to help me in any way. They will forever be remembered and thanked by me for giving me my life back. I have been able to fix more than just myself here. I now have a much better relationship with my friends and family, and am now able to successfully produce in society. I have found creativity inside me that I thought had been lost forever and I am ready to bring that into the world.
I am proud of who I am and what I know I can and will become.”