So, the “artist bio” has always been something that bugs me- especially for indie and unknown artists. The conventional wisdom and advice is that it must be written in third person and be ultra business-like. Oh, please.
99.999% of the time they are written by the artist themselves- because who else would be bothered to do it? It usually ends up sounding pretentious and too much like a hard sales pitch.
I have included my story below in first person. After all, who knows it better than I do? I was there.
For me, music is an attempt at something real and honest. To that end, I will just have my say in my own words. Convention be damned.
I played my first live show in front of a paying audience in Charlotte, NC back in 1991. I was 22 and I was in a grunge band called “me and emma”. We were a three-piece outfit that often drew comparisons to Nirvana. I did all songwriting, guitar and vocals.
In 1992, we were invited to perform at the North Carolina Music Showcase where we played in front of music industry folks and record label reps. None of the labels were itching to sign us, but it was very exciting!
Over the next few years we managed to earn a small, local following, and I hoped that would continue forever. That band ended abruptly when one of the members took his own life in 1994.
That is something that still hurts even after all these years.
I was kind of lost.
I knew I wanted to do something more acoustic and stripped down so I recorded an acoustic CD, "Chevelle", in 1995 and played some shows in support of it. Charlotte’s Creative Loafing magazine named me “The Best Local Solo Male Artist” for 1995.
Local, critical acclaim aside, the reality for me was that I was broke and I had to make a living. I met the most incredible, beautiful woman in 1993 and I knew I had to “man up” and make a living for us.
So, for the next couple of decades, music became something very personal that I did for myself and rarely shared. I continued to write, record and play shows occasionally but I didn’t give it the attention I wanted to because it felt selfish to do that.
I was encouraged by the response I received when I did play out. Some of the the terms that tend to pop up when folks talk to me about my work are; “real”, “honest”, “blue-collar” and “relatable”. I take each one of those as a huge compliment. I had to laugh when someone asked me at one of the open mics I did, "do you play for a living?" Sadly, I had to tell them "No- I climb telephone poles!"
In 2007, I recorded a collection called “late shift”. I was working a shift from midnight to 9AM at the time, and those songs just showed up. In 2010, I released “Kudzu Cognac” and played some shows in support of it. The response was good. I began to put things on itunes and various streaming services around that time.
My songs are, and have always been, very personal. They are reactions to living; to hopes, hurts, fears and joys. I am proud of the fact that I am not a youngster anymore. I have some life experience, and I’ve spent many years working with my hands out in the real world.
In 2016, my wife and I moved out of the “city” to a small town in eastern NC. We are fixing up an old house. The new, old house (pictured above) is where I recorded “useless words” (2018).
"useless words" is not a “perfect” recording because I wanted it to be honest. Sometimes I miss notes and sometimes my guitar playing isn’t perfect. I’m ok with that. I’ll always try to be a better musician, but finally, after all these years, I have accepted that it is not selfish to just be me.
From 2018 on, I will be putting out a collection of music every year and I will be playing live much more often. Look for me out and about!
Thanks for reading,
[If you want a good laugh- here’s me at 23 with LOTS OF HAIR! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrNZPgtSp5M]
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