Stewart Oksenhorn of The Aspen Times reports:
Coburn, though, is a northerner, and an urbanite to boot, a native of Flint, Mich., home of unions and the birthplace of General Motors.
Still, Coburn claims to have the South in his blood, and not only because he has lived for the last four of his 34 years in Hill Country Revue's home base of Memphis. On the dirt road where he grew up, Coburn would watch his grandfather barbecue chicken in his own mustard-based barbecue sauce, with the country songs of Merle Haggard and Del Reeves playing in the background. Coburn's father had different tastes in music, but they were equally Southern: ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackfoot. Coburn and his friends would sometimes talk about the roots of their respective families — in Kentucky, Georgia or Mississippi.
About the only thing about the upbringing that wasn't Southern, in fact, was the address. Flint might seem a part of the South only if you were standing in, say, Green Bay or Duluth. But Coburn says Flint was a destination for the mass migration of Southerners — including his paternal grandfather, from the southern Missouri town of Hornersville — who landed in Michigan's urban centers in the mid-20th century, lured by jobs in the auto industry. So in Flint, Coburn was surrounded by neighborhoods like Little Missouri, kids who had family back in Tennessee or Florida, and neighborhoods, like the one he grew up in, that were built to resemble the rural towns the people had left behind.
“It was the auto rush,” said the 34-year-old Coburn from a tour stop in Santa Fe, following a 10-hour drive from Dallas and a noon-ish wake-up cup of coffee. “He went north to work for Buick, and the whole family went. But my grandpa was so Southern, a Southern gentleman, and that resonated through the family. I call Flint, Mich. the biggest Southern city in the North.”