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McKENZIE (November 3) — Derek Fields of McKenzie said he was honored to have a sold-out gathering at the intimate Cooper’s Café inside the new City Florist and More in downtown …
McKENZIE (November 3) — Derek Fields of McKenzie said he was honored to have a sold-out gathering at the intimate Cooper’s Café inside the new City Florist and More in downtown McKenzie.
On Saturday evening, Fields, on guitar, and Steve Cunningham on percussion, performed music written by the artist himself. Many of the tracts are on the CD “Without Permission,” while others had never been performed in public, said Fields.
A long journey took a huge turn for singer-songwriter and lifelong McKenzie resident Derek Fields two years ago when he was asked to play at a gathering at the home of the late Dr. Volker Winkler.
The local physician was so impressed with the musician that he offered to help him advance his career. Dr. Winkler would soon fulfill that offer by funding the studio time for Fields to record his debut album of original songs, Without Permission.
In an interview with The Banner, Fields said that it’s hard to put a label on his music, but settles on Americana. Influenced heavily by artists such as The Band and John Prine, his songs are a mix of blues, country, rock and soul, with an emphasis on the latter.
He calls himself “a songwriter first,” but spent many years only performing covers before finally dedicating all of his time to his original songs.
Prior to playing that fateful set at the Winkler gathering, Fields had won a songwriting contest at Bethel University, earning him the right to record one song in the school’s studio. After that, he had begun saving money for more time.
With Winkler’s contribution, Fields hit the studio immediately and began laying down the tracks that would become Without Permission.
He co-produced the album with John Buteyn, who also did the mixing and played bass, keyboards, saxophone, harp and tambourine. Other musicians included Joni Boyd (harmony vocals), D.J. Culp (percussion and drums), Sophia Chambers (violin and cello), Ken Nolen (drums), Aaron Holman (banjo), Jake Riggins (upright bass), Jeremiah Cole (upright bass), Christian Pipkin (B3) and Keith Herris (Rhodes piano). Besides the lead vocals, Fields also played the guitar. The album was mastered by Cameron J. Henry at the Nashville recording studio Welcome to 1979.
The title Without Permission is a nod to the fact that Fields didn’t have to earn the approval of or submit to the whims of a record company.
He would regularly see Winkler, who would ask about the progress and told Fields, “I can’t wait to hear it.” Fields assured him, “I’ll make sure you’re the first to hear it.”
It’s a promise that became impossible for Fields to keep as Winkler died in February from injuries sustained while riding an elliptigo.
“It’s a heartbreaking thing that he never got to hear it,” Fields told The Banner. The recording was done, but the songs had yet to be mixed.
“I really want people to know what he did for me,” he added. The album’s liner notes include: “Without Permission is dedicated to the late Volker Winkler, who believed in me and my music enough to give me this opportunity.”
Fields says that for now, music is still a hobby, but hopes that the album may help him build a fan base. “If I can get enough of a return on this, I can continue.”
Without Permission is available now to stream or purchase at derekfields.hearnow.com and on all major streaming sites. Fields can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 41-year-old has worked at AT&T for 22 years. He and his wife, Lauren, have four children. Derek is the son of Jim Fields of McKenzie and Diane Conley of Trezevant.