As a teen Nathan Brett learned the guitar and performed in the church band between his father's prayers. From his home in Madison County, he could reach the rock 'n' roll mecca of Athens by car in 20 minutes. Music consumed his thoughts.
Nathan attended the University of Georgia, studying history and music business. When he finished school, Nashville called. He interned for a year at a small recording studio, and at night he wrote songs and explored the bustling singer-songwriter scene.
After his internship ended, he got a job loading and unloading trucks and cooking in a restaurant. Time to write music and perform grew scarce.
Back home, Murray Brett worried. What kind of life was his oldest son choosing? Murray feared that spiritual bankruptcy loomed.
Every summer Murray took his three sons to the Georgia coast to toss seine nets for shrimp. One evening, tending to the day's haul, Murray wanted to know when Nathan would wake from Nashville's trance.
Everyone says give it five years, Nathan said.
I don't think you've got five years, Murray said. In five years you'll be 29 and starting over; you'll have to find a new career, start at the bottom. What if you have a family by then? Come home, Murray pleaded, we'll work together, father and son. We'll open a wood shop, make guitars. Maybe we'll do a little farming, who knows?