Local Personality Palmer Stephens Launches Kickstarter Campaign

By Renee Courtney | June 17, 2013

One of the many attributes of West Virginians is our pride in what is ours: Our mountains, our laid-back lifestyle, our college football teams and our talented residents. We cheered on Mary Lou Retton: we voted our hearts out for Landau Eugene Murphy on America's Got Talent and we will gush about the likes of Brad Paisley, Kathy Mattea, and all the other famous folks who hail from our home state.

We live vicariously through our fellow West Virginians who have broken the stereotypical mold and shown the world we are here.

Local radio personality Palmer Stephens, who resides in Glenville, could be the next big thing to come out of the Mountain State. But even if he isn't, he is happy that he is fulfilling a life goal that he set for himself at age 30 to complete before he reached his 40th birthday.

Although he lives in Glenville, he makes his way to Radio Park in Clarksburg three days a week and can be heard on Magic 106.5, The Bear, and FBY. He also spent time hosting his own morning radio show at the Boss 97.1 WDBS in Summersville, and has been in the radio business for nearly 20 years.

Stephens comes from a very music-centric background. Everyone in his  family plays at least one instrument or sings. His aunt even sang back-up on a K.T. Oslin album, and one cousin toured Europe with AC/DC. His grandfather was a fiddle champion of West Virginia, while another currently works in Nashville bars. It's not surprising that Stephens has been writing music since he was 12 years old.

Stephens is also active in social media and gives due credit to the medium for how far he has gotten with his current project.

He has given the name of his first CD “Blame Palmer” due to the fact he wrote, produced, played every instrument, acted as vocalist on every track and mastered them in his living room.

“There is no one to blame but me if there is anything wrong, so it was a perfect name for the CD,” said Stephens.

Stephens said that all of the songs on his CD are about him or someone he knows.

Happy Place" was inspired by a story on facebook by a friend's status comment. Her little girl was growing up too fast, and she was going home to her happy place,” Stephens said. “Her story was similar to my mother's story. We were living in the big city, and things were getting out of hand; she named the song and she didn't know it... I was very engaged in the progression of her story and when she made the statement, I'm going home to my happy place, I knew that was going to be the title of a song.” 

“If you aren't familiar with West Virginia, you wouldn't realize that is what the song is about, coming back here,” Stephens said. “So many people leave West Virginia because they think it's awful, and three months later they can not wait to get back here. Once you have lived here, it will always be your happy place.”

“You can walk down the street and wave at people you don't know, and they don't look at you like you're an idiot ... they wave back.”

Leave Me Alone" is the only song where I have a co-writer,” Stephens said. “A man named Jay Howel wrote the chorus, based on another piece of instrumental music I had written. When he heard it, he immediately pulled out a Post-it note and wrote the chorus.”
“It's about a man in a relationship that as a guy begins to feel less manly,” Stephens said. “Once you live with a woman, you begin to not be the old slovenly man that you once were. So he kicks her out of his life because he wants to be a man's man again. But then he soon realizes even though she is gone, he is still doing the same things he did when she was there. One of the lines in the song is 'The house just doesn't smell right without Febreze and potpourri.' The chorus includes "Leave me Alone," because even though she is gone, she is still in his head. The plan he had in his head to be the old man he was, is gone. He can't get it back.”

Stephens believes that every woman will appreciate Leave Me Alone, and most men over the age of 25 will understand it.

Stephens calls the track "Old Enough" a cautionary tale. “There is such a thing as a young woman, and then there is a mature girl,” Stephens said. “There is a very thin line there that can not be crossed.”

“The problem is, sometimes mature girls will try to entice you to cross that line,” Stephens said. “Mature girls do lie, and they will tell you they are old enough, and they are not.”

Stephens reminisced about a time when he came back from Desert Storm at age 19, and some of the girls who crossed his path were around 17.

“You're not thinking about that sometimes when you're young and stupid and 19; you're just thinking about how cute she is, until her dad reminds you about her age,” said Stephens. “In a very real bruising sense.”

Stephens referenced the song's hook, “You may think your old enough, but your dad and the law disagree.”

Stephens explained that he still has had occasion to have run ins with these mature girls.

“I'm not 'famous' by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm known from my work on the radio and being at shows. I'm an older man now, I'm 40, but I still get approached now and then by the 'mature girls,' making offers; that still happens,” Stephens said. “Because I'm an old man now, and I've learned these lessons, I tell them to get away from me.”
One song that was not slated for release on the album, but has been included due to popular demand is "Strippers and Cool-Aid."

“It was written as a joke, but everyone loves that song,” Stephens said. “It was written because I was pissed off at listening to the radio and hearing a not-good song getting all kinds of air play.”

“You would hear the radio personalities not talking about how good the song was, but how good the video is,” Stephens said. “A video is a video and that's fine, but that makes the song a soundtrack.”

When one listens to this song, they may find some of it doesn't make any sense without watching the video, and that is the point Stephens is making.

“The word Cool-aid isn't even in the song; it's only in the video,” Stephens said. “When people ask me where does Cool-aid come in, I tell them they have to watch the video.”

“This isn't new; this is Donny Osmond, Shaun Cassidy, The Partridge Family, even the Brady Bunch put out an album. This is a long tradition that has been going on for a long time,” Stephens said. "If you have a good looking boy with nice teeth to look cute, it will sell through the roof.”

“Then there is the stripper aspect, if you have big boobs, boys don't even need to hear the music from that point on,” Stephens chuckled. He referenced text in the video that says “No one is even reading now because I said strippers.”

“So the video was meant to be one big condescending, satirical joke. It was meant to be over-the-top in every way,” Stephens said. “But everybody loves it.”

“The reason I knew I had something with this song was the amount of messages and emails I received, telling me that it was hilarious, and they really liked the music,” said Stephens. “It's just three chords of me pounding through 4x4 and yelling into a microphone.”

“It has become one of my favorite songs on the album, because out of all the songs I have written, so many people have connected to that song, just latched onto it, and said yep, and he's right,” Stephens said. “It made me feel good that I tapped into something everyone appreciates.”

There is one instrumental song on the upcoming release that has yet to be named. “Another thing I would like to do is write soundtracks for movies,” Stephens said. “So I created what I believe is a good adventure movie style soundtrack.”

Speaking of the creation of "Blame Palmer," Stephens said.

“It's like having a kid; you just got to get it out, and send it off on its own and see how it's going to do. I needed to get these songs out of my head because I couldn't sleep at night. I never thought I could stress out so much about something I love doing.”

He continued, “It isn't a bad type of stress. It's like you love your kid, but your kid can cause you the most stress ever.” Stephens said. “These songs have become like my little children; I'm ready to send them off into the world and hope they don't teeter and fall. As long as they stay in the house, they are making too much noise and I have other kids I need to raise.”

This release is not the only goal Stephens wants to accomplish. He is already making plans for his second album and has set a date to marry his longtime girlfriend Connie Osentoski, whom he has affectionately nicknamed Crazy, in October of this year.

“The crazy girlfriend will soon be the crazy wife,” Stephens said. “I think that I have accomplished another life goal, by doing this, because I'm twice divorced, but I finally found a woman that who loves me for as insane as I am.”

“Anybody that knows me knows she does not love me for my money,” Stephens said with a smile.

Stephens had previously been adamant that he would never marry again. “It was not going to happen, would not happen,” Stephens said. “She told me once, you're gonna marry me, and I said no I'm not.”

Although Osentoski is from West Virginia, and she and Stephens share the same roots and know the same people, she had previously moved away from the state. The two of them ultimately met through facebook. He had previously attended high school with her sister, but Osentoski's and Stephen's paths had never crossed before.

“We had all the same friends and visited the same places, but we were just always there at different times.” Stephens said.

Stephens said he would change nothing about his life path, including his two divorces, what he experienced in the Army, any hardship he has experienced.

“I needed all those things to happen in my life to be able to do what I'm doing now and to appreciate what I'm doing now,” Stephens said.

“This album was created in my living room, and all on borrowed or second-hand, donated equipment, mastered on a 6-year-old rebuilt computer,” Stephens said. “Even if this album flops, and I make no money from it, how many people can say they produced an album from their desk.”

“When I look back on this accomplishment, it won't be 'mom bought all my equipment and I did it.' Even though they didn't play an instrument, all my friends are in that album,” Stephens said. “There were many times when I was working on the music, I wasn't eating, and my friend Charles Miller was cooking me a meal and making sure I ate it.”

“When I started out, I had an acoustic guitar and a microphone, and my drum set was a vitamin bottle and a quarter,” Stephens said. “Over the years, friends gave me equipment that they weren't using, so my friends are an integral part of my album … it would have never happened without my friends.”

“So would I change anything? No. I have had the most bonding life experiences with my friends, and it will be here forever.” Stephens said.

Stephens was most recently humbled by a contestant in a Doddridge County talent show.

“She told me the reason she had started to sing is because she saw what I able to do in my living room through my videos,” Stephens said. “You don't have to be rich to do this; you don't have to have the best equipment. Start with what you got, just do it.”

“If you like it, it does not matter what other people think,” Stephens said. “Eventually they will like it, because you like it so much. They will hear your joy in it, and it will make them like it.”

Stephens said everyone should do what they love. “If your love accounting, crunch those numbers; do what makes you happy.”

“The most common argument I get when I tell people this is, I don't have time. I get asked a lot how do I find the time to do what I do,” Stephens said. “If you work an eight-hour day and you need an hour travel time to get back and forth to work, that's nine hours. If you sleep six hours a night, that's 15 hours, how many hours do you have left, and how many of those hours are did you spend watching someone else make music, when you could have been making your own. The time is there, it's all about prioritizing.”

Stephens has launched a Kickstarter account to help raise funding to get his album published. You can take part in Blame Palmer by visiting the link http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1804558274/blame-palmer-a-truly-independent-creation

You can also keep up with Palmer on the following websites.



Share Article


Posted by Margaret Bailey on Jun 17, 2013 at 12:54 PM
Palmer is so very talented. I wish him the very best as he shares more and more of those talents with the world, Good luck, my friend....you deserve it!

Post a Comment

Log in or Register to post a comment.

Vote for the Best of Clarksburg!