'Outlaw' singer

Guitarists Joe Diehl and Robbie DaCosta recently uncovered the vocal abilities of baritone Ernie Walley.

Last fall, Walley, a bouncer at Alex's Plaza Restaurant, expressed an interest in singing, so Diehl invited him to an open mic session at the Trophy Club. Walley was hesitant, but Diehl was persistent. And in December, Walley finally worked up the courage to make his first public appearance. He sang "One Way Out" and "Statesboro Blues" by The Allman Brothers and "A Country Boy Can Survive" by Hank Williams Jr.

"I wrote the lyrics on pieces of a brown paper bag because I could fold it to fit in my hand," Walley says. "Sweat was pouring out, and I couldn't look at the crowd. But once I got past the second song and people let me know I was decent, I wanted to come back and do more."

Walley turned out for several more open mic sessions, and Diehl, who was moving to New Orleans, referred him to Robbie DaCosta.

"He let Robbie DaCosta know I had 'pretty good chops,' as he put it," Walley says.

DaCosta, who sings every Monday night at Alex's, got Walley to come up on stage and sing a few songs each week. When DaCosta was busy, Walley worked with guitarist Skylar Squglio of 100 Watt Mind, and Tonie Stewart, a bartender at Alex's, gave him his stage name, Erndiggles.

"People were like, 'I didn't know you could sing,' " Walley says.

The newly discovered vocalist, backed by the Rattlers, better known as 100 Watt Mind, will make his official debut at 9 p.m. Friday, July 20, at Alex's Plaza Restaurant, 35 N. Main St., Ashland.

Erndiggles and the Rattlers will play songs by Southern rockers, including Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Johnny Cash and The Allman Brothers.

"I'm from Alabama," Walley says. "It's what I grew up on. I love outlaw country and Southern rock."

Walley's raw, throaty blues vocals have been compared to Waylon Jennings and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.

Before his discovery, Walley says his only music training was playing trombone and tuba in high school band and singing in the car and shower.

"I've always wanted to sing, but never had the nerve, so it's great to get that push," he says.

"I would like to eventually get my own band together and start writing songs."

The cover to the show at Alex's is $5. Call 541-482-8818.

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