The heartbreaking story of Nowhere man and a Whiskey girl, an Arizonian duo with a morbid end.
I’m certain we all know of musicians who’ve brought light into our life, that remind us of a far gone past. A nostalgic period of time in which our affairs prospered, our friends where true and our happiness was assured. Personally nothing reminds me more of this golden past than the beautifully morbid tale of Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl.
Derrick and Amy Ross from Bisbee Arizona performed optimistic folk music to a quaint Mexican bordering town, Amy played keyboard and sang while Derrick played guitar. When Derrick and Amy began performing as Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl in early 2003, their intentions were simple enough: Select a name that hinted at their roots in the American West and established their identity as a determinedly two-person operation. With these rather modest ambitions they slowly built up a following in the Southwest.
Their name cast them as a couple of travelers, too intoxicated with the possibilities of someplace else to settle down. In that sense, the name would prove prophetic as it charted the course of the next five years of their lives.
Unable to locate a satisfactory permanent home, they accumulated more than their fair share of temporary addresses. When it wasn’t the pony-trail towns of Bisbee, Tucson, and Willcox in the Arizona Territory, it was cooler locales like Corvallis and Nashville. Upon the release of their self-titled debut album, they hit the road for weeks at a time, bypassing the metropolitan centres in favour of the oft-neglected smaller towns.
Wherever they went, they brought a simple musical proposition: Her piano and voice, his acoustic guitar, a love of life’s little details, and a sense of humour. Although they traversed a landscape of brown hue desolation, they arrived none the worse for wear. Their longing for home unfulfilled, they found something of greater value along the way. They found a legion of like-minded hopeful searchers who believed in what they had to say and how they said it.
Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl where married for 13 years and on October the 14th 2013 Amy died from a blood infection — the result of on-going dialysis she had to undergo because of a battle with lupus. The comedian Doug Stanhope, also a Bisbee resident, was close friends with the couple and after hosting a podcast with Derrick (Nowhere Man) said, “After (Amy) died, he kept telling people he was OK,” “Evidently he bought a gun on the way home from the hospital. We found a receipt.” She was 40, he was 39.
Although such an early loss to the world of music is a gut wrenching shame we can still travel back to a golden past through their music, it’s debatable as to whether two people have ever loved each other more and if the world was fair Amy and Derrick would have had the chance to grow old together. May they rest in peace.