Hemp & Denim

Denim Skye and Hemp Meadows make up Hemp & Denim.

This is a love story.

Or maybe it’s a lesson on retirement planning.

Better yet, it’s a tale of two musicians who have found their muse in their beloved home of Williamson County.

For Hemp Meadows and Denim Skye, it’s all three — and maybe a bit more.

“We’re real excited about the future, because we just made the decision a couple of years ago that we were going to have to do something with the rest of our lives,” Hemp said recently, sipping on an iced tea as he and Denim relaxed at Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant in Leiper’s Fork. 

“At our age [late 60s], we’re not over the hill but we’re looking over the hill. We have more years behind us than we have in front of us, and you have to make a decision on what you’re going to do. Is there any way you can find your dream again, maybe live your passion?"

“At the very least,” Denim chimed in, “have a good time doing what you love to do.”

“We chose music,” Hemp added, “because that was our gift, that was our talent, that was our love. We hadn’t played music in 25 years, so it was a big change. It was a challenge and it was something that we felt like we needed to do to fulfill whatever dream we had left so we wouldn’t have regrets not pursuing it.”

That pursuit began about three years ago, when Hemp & Denim, as the duo is called, began playing at writers nights and open mics in the greater Nashville area and releasing an EP titled You Can’t Fool Karma. That was followed by the release earlier this fall of the LP House of Love, which includes two singles — “One Step Over the Line” and “You Take My Breath Away” — that have accompanying videos. “One Step Over the Line” has also been submitted for consideration for a Grammy nomination as Best Americana Roots Song.

In addition to the Americana sound, Hemp & Denim’s tunes are reminiscent of 1960s and ’70s California pop and British rock.

“The lyrics are about life and about experiences,” Denim said. “People relate to the songs. We’re really trying to get the music out because we think it would make people happy.”

A special glow

The story of Hemp & Denim can be traced to the days of peace and love, in both northern and southern California. Hemp, a nickname he was given in his youth, lived for a spell in San Francisco, arriving there just after the Summer of Love in 1967. Denim, whose name was given to her by her “spiritual father,” lived for a while in the early 1970s in Laurel Canyon outside of Los Angeles, an area where songwriters such as Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Carole King and many others soaked up inspiration.

It would be another decade or so before Hemp and Denim met each other, however. It was in 1981 when both were backstage at a Cars concert. 

“When I saw Denim, it was kind of like love at first sight,” Hemp said. “I thought she was beautiful. She had a special glow. Sometimes the chemistry is just right. And she was similarly attracted to me.”

They were living in Hollywood at the time and became romantically involved, and both had creative aspirations. Denim had a passion for music but was also a skilled visual artist, and Hemp worked in the music industry and played in a band.

They made plans to make an album together, but those fell apart and nothing came of it. Their personal relationship also began to wane, and soon ended.

Hemp moved back home to his parents’ house in Wichita, Kan., out of a job and in need of getting his life in better shape. He eventually re-entered the workforce and started making a living again. It was then he decided to seek out Denim and hoped that flame still kindled.   

“One thing led to the other and we wound up falling back in love again,” Hemp said. “The love was strong enough to keep us together.”

‘A resurgence of creativity’

Hemp and Denim married in 1986, and recently celebrated their 35th anniversary. They moved to Williamson County 20 years ago, giving them what they might call a geographic edge for creativity. 

“There’s no more exciting place to live than Williamson County right now,” Hemp said. “You’re meeting people from all over the country and in many cases internationally. 

"It’s exciting to be here and we’re excited to be part of it and enjoy entertaining people here.”

Even as they reached their 60s, Hemp and Denim knew deep inside they were more about rock ’n’ roll than the rocking chair. 

“At this time in our life, we enjoy experiencing a resurgence of creativity instead of retiring and trying to figure out what we are into,” Hemp said. “We’ve taken all the stuff we’ve enjoyed through the years.”

Hemp & Denim has a loyal following, and the duo can be seen and heard in places such as Puckett’s in Leiper’s Fork, Kimbro’s Pickin Parlor in Franklin and Bobby’s Idle Hour Tavern in Nashville, among other locations. Hemp and Denim stay busy playing at private functions as well. And while their music hasn’t reached airplay in the United States yet, the duo just learned some radio stations in the United Kingdom have started playing their songs. 

For now, retirement is merely a blip on the horizon.

“What we wanted to do was to develop a brand that stood for adventure and fun, passion, living your life on a level of integrity,” Hemp said. “You have to realize you don’t know how long you’ve got on the planet, you take it for granted. But when you get in your 60s, you’re dealing with more health issues, more energy focus. 

“And quality of life and lifestyle become really important. … Now it’s about enjoying a quality of life which has to do with finding your passion and living it.”