There are countless songwriters whose writings, voices and visions have changed my life in some way. Some leave a momentary mark, while others continually offer guidance, support or empathy, whenever I need it. Many spring to mind: Jeff Tweedy, Bruce Springsteen, Gary Louris, Matthew Ryan, Damien Jurado, Neil Young, Elliott Smith, Richard Buckner, Lucinda Williams. All of these writers, along with tens of others have stood by my side many times througout the years.

Whenever I think about the greatest songwriters/voices of the past decade or two, one of the first to come to mind is a virtually-unknown musical genius from North Carolina named Kenny Roby. Many years ago it was Roby's band 6 String Drag that revealed to me that straightforward music can at times be the best music. No frills. Simple songwriting, a charging guitar and seeping passion. That was Kenny Roby's 6 String Drag. They were shortlived, but Kenny charged on. I've heard numerous times that he's considered bailing on making music. But he always comes back. And I for one, thank god for that. Since the Drag's demise, Kenny's released two fanatastic records, his latest, "Rather Not Know", pays homage to his late father. However, instead of a record drowning in sorrow (which would certainly be understandable), Roby compliments the heartbreaking tunes with songs ranging from an overweight, yet determined woman named Thelma ("Not Gonna Give Up") to traditional downhome numbers like "I Need a Train".

There are many great songwriters out there, but as far as the unsung heroes go, there are few as talented and heartfelt as North Carolina's Kenny Roby.