Bud Whiteman’s cowboy hat casts an eerie shadow over his rugged features. He’s holding a macho stance at the front door of what should be a dusty saloon bar in the Wild West, not a house in Upper Beeding, West Sussex.
With legs spread wide and hands neatly stuffed into the front of his jeans, a nod of the head acknowledges my arrival. I dismount my stallion - a Vauxhall Astra - and head inside.
Upstairs I’m greeted with a view of traditional Sussex village greenery. Nice, but hardly the inspiration to make a country and western album. Yet Bud, real name Roy White, has managed to concoct more than 20.
The 60-something singer/songwriter devoted his life to music.
After starting a paper round to buy his first guitar, Bud never looked back.
And he’s enjoyed much success in recent years. But, like many stories portrayed in tracks from the musical genre, Bud’s journey has been long and filled with heartache.
He explains that the inner musician was somewhat caged during his first marriage.
Then life took an unexpected turn some years down the line when he attended a party.
“I remember seeing this person across the dance floor. All the lights that were red suddenly went green, and I thought, ‘well that’s 30 years of marriage out the window’.”
Bud looked pensive for a moment, then stared at me bug-eyed and broke into a soppy grin.
“I’m a really lucky person because I have the best woman and the best band in the world.”
Lyn’s an artist. Her career underpins the couple’s support for each other and acknowledgement that creating art - be that music or paintings - takes time.
“You never stop thinking about your art, and you need someone who understands that.”
As Bud reels off his guide to a successful love life - thankfully not in too much detail - I scan the room.
One sofa is the haven from countless canvases and an array of guitars which line the living room walls. It’s a teenager’s crash pad. A love nest. But that’s all they need whilst averaging two trips a year across the pond.
Bud’s lust for country and western music has led him on pilgrimages to the most rootinest tootinest parts of America. The west is where he feels most at home and draws real inspiration. In fact, it’s where his name came from.
“Originally I used the band name Backhander, but this seemed a bit pointless. Everyone’s so friendly over there and call each other Bud, so it just stuck. I used my surname, and I’m a male, so thought ‘man’ would give it a friendly sort of feel.”
As often as possible he will lock himself away in the most isolated parts of the USA and write music. Whilst the solitude and vastness may seem crushing to some, Bud thrives.
“You’re looking out of these windows and seeing incredible mountain scenery or being right in the middle of the desert where there’s absolutely no sound or nothing for miles.”
The cover of his latest album - ‘Time for Rebels’ - depicts exactly this. A hulking white truck gives way to songs including ‘Four Chrome Wheels and a Woman’, ‘Sunrise over Phoenix’ and ‘A Shot of Love’.
He promises to carry on playing and producing music as long as he’s able to physically, and financially.
“In spirit and in mind I’m still 18,” said Bud, tweaking his cowboy hat.
At that point the letter box fluttered loudly and mail piled high on the floor.
“I hope that’s money.”
Keep up to date with Bud and the band by visiting their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/thebudwhitemanband