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Small Town Scars has been hailed as a "fine set of piano and dobro-driven story songs." Its 12 tracks boast the popular ghost song and first single, "The Colville Bridge" as well as touching ballads like, "Stability," "Almost There," and the title track.
Written as a tribute to the people and events of the community in which he was raised, Small Town Scars is a reflection on the good and bad aspects of growing up in a small town. Even so, its universal themes are easily relatable to people from any walk of life and support Alson's belief that "There's really only one story to tell: the story of the human experience."
While it is a deeply personal album, there are plenty of lighter moments, including the fun, "She Always Calls Me Honey" and "She's a Country Star," among others.
Small Town Scars was independently released on September 13, 2011. All songs were written, performed, recorded, and produced by Alson. The album was mixed and mastered by Christian hip hop artist Brian "Change" Penney.
Alson was born on January 24, 1976, to Ruth Ann and Alson Cole, Jr. He has two older sisters: Rebecca Deitemeyer and Allison Gaunce.
The family lived in the small town of Berry, KY, on the northern end of Harrison County. Alson's mom worked as a school bus driver, and his dad was a factory worker. His dad was also a great fiddler, and it was from him that Alson learned many bluegrass tunes and folk songs from the British Isles. Although his dad bought him a fiddle when he was 4 years old, Alson opted for the piano, simply wanting to learn to play hymns for church. After a few piano lessons, Alson learned that he could play well by ear but had difficulty reading the notes from a page. He developed a unique touch to the piano and was soon touring churches around Kentucky, performing at revivals and hymn sings.
Alson graduated from Harrison County High School in 1994--fourth in his class. Thereafter, he attended Georgetown College in Georgetown, KY, where he was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. He studied music for a while but ultimately opted for a degree in communications. While he had written songs over the course of his young life, it was during this time that Alson started to develop his craft as a songwriter. He had gained attention on campus by singing and playing the Stevie Wonder classic, "Lately" at a talent show. Then on his 19th birthday, he wrote what he described as his first "serious" song called, "When the Walls Cave In," which he performed along with several other songs at a event on campus later that winter. Well received, Alson continued to write and perform on and off campus.
After graduating magna cum laude from Georgetown in 1998, Alson worked as a news writer for The Cynthiana Democrat, the local newspaper in Cynthiana, KY, which is the county seat of Harrison County. He moved to Cynthiana and continued to write for the paper while going back to school and earning a degree in elementary education from Midway College. He was a classroom teacher for five years, and during that time he earned a master's degree in educational administration from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH.
A series of personal setbacks and feelings of inadequacy stalled Alson's creative juices until 2007, when he decided to start writing songs again. That was the genesis of what would become Small Town Scars. Just prior to writing and recording his own songs, Alson experimented by recording three instrumental albums of piano music: a Celtic folk song album called In Between Wars and two Christmas albums, The Midnight Clear and Morning in Bethlehem. He distributed the albums locally and found the inspiration and motivation to continue recording music.
As Small Town Scars took shape, Alson found his style changing to folk with touches of country and bluegrass throughout. He drew heavily on the bluegrass influences he heard from his dad as a child, namely Bill Monroe and Ricky Skaggs, but he also pulled from his lifelong love of Dolly Parton, whom he considers "the best songwriter of our time."
In 2009, Alson accepted a position within the University of Kentucky's Human Development Institute. He provides training and technical assistance for teachers in various states administering alternate assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
He continues to perform and promote Small Town Scars as well as write new material.