Logan Mize is a carpenter. But the tools he uses don’t hang from his belt. Mize works with his voice, not his hands, creating a sturdy structure to house his country music career.
The craft is in his bloodline. His uncle Billy Mize is credited as being a founding father of the Bakersfield sound. Uncle Billy had a crooner’s voice, similar to Marty Robbins and played impressive steel guitar. He wrote songs recorded by Merle Haggard (“Who’ll Buy The Wine”), as well as Jerry Lee Lewis, Ernest Tubb and Dean Martin.
He also performed as a member of Haggard’s band The Strangers, and was credited as being the first to put Haggard on TV in the early ‘50s with a show he hosted from Bakersfield. He played steel guitar with the Texas Playboys, and later encouraged Buck Owens to branch out on his own.
But Logan wasn’t even aware of his uncle when he started his own musical career. His musical tastes at an early age were in an entirely different direction, focusing on Elton John and Enya. He laughs when his past history is brought up.
“Oh man, my dad listened to a lot of Elton John, so that was always being played around the house,” he said. “And then my parents were into Clannad, which was Enya’s family band, and a lot of Celtic folk music. Through that I discovered Enya, and I just loved it, and that’s how I kinda learned how to play the piano, playing Enya’s songs. But I love country music and grew up loving it.”
But it wasn’t until his late teens that Logan finally understood the implication of the family country music connection.
“I got out to Bakersfield and started being in that scene, figured out how important of a role he played in pioneering the Bakersfield sound. I didn’t realize he was kind of the godfather of the whole thing. I just thought he was one of the moving parts of it.”
Billy had a stroke in his 60s, shortly after Logan was born, and spent the rest of his life trying to recover. But he never sang again. He was able to play, however, and Logan did get to interact with him.
“I played his 80th birthday party at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace with Merle Haggard,” he said. “It was really cool.”
Logan has done pretty well on his own, releasing his first self-titled album in 2009. Former American Idol Bucky Covington’s 2012 release “Good Guys” featured Mize’s original “Mexicoma.” Mize’s sophomore release, “Nobody in Nashville,” broke into the top 50 on the country music charts in 2012, and his latest, 2017’s “Come Back Road,” debuted in the top 20 slot.
Mize has gone from small clubs to bigger venues, opening for acts including Charlie Daniels, Eric Church, Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley and LeAnn Rimes. Wife Jill Martin is also in the biz, and tours sporadically with Mize, bringing along their two young children.
“My wife and I (recently) had a show in Pittsburgh. (Steelers quarterback) big Ben Roethlisberger was there. He was a fan of Jill’s voice and that was really cool to see,” Mize says. “A lot of times, it’s just me out here without them. And that’s tough. I don’t like leaving ‘cause my kids are like at a fun age — 7 and 4 — tough to be away at those ages, but when they can come along it’s really fun, we try to make them feel like they have a normal home life.”
Despite his hard-won success, Mize feels that the radio and record companies are often slow in passing products along to people eager to hear from their musical favorites.
“When you live in Nashville, there are so many things that you’ve recorded that just get lost — hundreds of songs, dozens of demos,” Mize says. “I had made an entire album in 2013 that I produced and wrote. I really loved it. And for some reason or another, it never came out.”
“Come Back Road” came out in 2017, but it was slow going for Mize.
“Pushing a single at radio, things move at a glacial pace,” he said. “Our hardcore fans out there need more music, and we can’t put an official release out because we gotta stick with this ‘Better Off Gone’ single at radio, so I’m like, ‘Let’s go back to these earlier recordings from 6-7 years ago, let’s just put em out, put them out on YouTube and see if they get any hits.’ ”
Calling it “From The Vault,” Mize has released four videos: “Only In This Town” written in 2014 with Casey Beathard, “Best Friends,” “I Want You,” and “Thinking About You.” He’ll also release the tunes as an EP next month.
“It’ll come out on i-Tunes and Apple music and Spotify. It’s just something to whet the palate of the actual fans who are tired of listening to the same album for the last two years.”
So although Mize is somewhat frustrated with the system, he’s figuring out a way to build his own structure within it.
“There’ve been times when its like, man, it would be so much easier to be completely on my own and I could just put out whatever I want,” he said. “But there’s always the matter of printing the money to cover the cost of the recording, then having the people to promote and market and all that stuff. You have to track that down yourself, so it’s a double-edged sword.
“At the end, I’d rather have a successful career and make money at it, so I figure if I can break through, then one day I’ll be able to do what I want to do. I love music. I don’t know that I could retire. I would love to continue touring and selling tickets well into my old age. That’s what I’m looking to build.”