As a kid growing up in Buchanan, singer-songwriter Scoot Horton, who now lives in Montrose, was equally enthralled by the Sex Pistols and Bob Dylan. Listening to his sophomore album, “Empty Bottles,” due to drop Feb. 11, those influences ring true.
Though he has more of a country twang now, Horton’s musical past is ever present. Through the ‘90s, Scoot played guitar in Awkward Thought, a band revered in the hardcore punk scene, which had several records and toured the U.S. and Europe.
Scoot went on to play in other popular hardcore bands, but as his musical style evolved, he was drawn to his longtime love for folk and Americana. He took the plunge at an open mic at Peekskill’s Bean Runner café (the same venue 2016 America’s Got Talent winner Grace Vanderwaal played), and he hasn’t looked back since.
Despite being released two years into the pandemic, Empty Bottles is refreshingly free of quarantine woes. The album was largely written and recorded in 2019, so there are no traces of Covid’s isolation and stress.
Instead, the songs reflect on life, love, and good, old rock’n’roll rebellion, while the sound varies from country ballads to faster sing-along tracks. Horton attributes his heavier country sound, once described as “Woody Guthrie meets the Sex Pistols,” to his punk roots.
“I think it was all in the way I was strumming the guitar. I just have a more aggressive style,” he said, adding, “it was from so many years playing punk and hardcore. It just naturally comes out that way.”
That influence is most evident in the songs “Fragile Heart,” “Bank Man,” and “Old Punks,” where he assures that “Old punks don’t die, they go country.”
Whenever quarantine loosens up, Scoot can be found performing with Marlena, his wife and collaborator. Find out more about his music and “Empty Bottles” > scoothorton.com.
River Journal North (RJN) grilled Scoot Horton about some of his music faves around Peekskill and Westchester …
RJN > What are some great local venues to catch live music in the Peekskill area?
SCOOT > Birdsall House, especially in the nice weather. When it’s outside, it’s the best place in Peekskill. I love playing at Peekskill Coffee House – it feels like home there, especially nighttime indoor shows. Peekskill Brewery also has music on weekends.
RJN > Who are some local musicians people should know about?
SCOOT > Fred Gillen, Jr. and Phineas and the Lonely Leaves. From Northern Westchester, Pluck and Rail. And, around the county, Greg Jacquin. And there’s Foster Dad, Bear Mountain Sound Machine, Jack Grace, and Eric Puente Jazz Quartet.
RJN > Favorite guitar shop?
SCOOT > A really good guitar store, where you can get instruments repaired, is Division Street Guitars. In the last two weeks, I’ve been there four or five times. They mostly sell guitars, bass, and amps. Paul [DeCourcey], the owner, is a very good guy.
RJN > Where are some great places to browse for music?
SCOOT > The Bruised Apple in Peekskill sells used books, but they also have a very big used record and CD section; In Buchanan, there’s Big Jim’s Records. And in Tarrytown, the Music Hall now has Marquee Records.
Gina Carey is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Sleepy Hollow.