I grew up in a church in which the whole congregation always sang together, kind of Frozen Chosen style. But music was heavy in my family too; we’d sing harmony with each other at church sometimes, and I can always remember there being a piano at either grandma’s or our house. Papa taught me to play “Ol Suzanna” on harmonica, and Mom and I would sing in the car together to the oldies station on two hour plus road trips. My mom was my biggest fan then. She always wanted to hear me sing. (Roadtrips when dad was in the car were always quieter, but he’s an excellent musician too. Low Down Musician Blues is a true story.) I took piano for about two years from a lady who is now a well known jazz musician but I gave it up by about middle school. Then in my teenage years I cameinto my own with music—Hard Rock, Southern Rock, Hip Hop and Pop. This is when my brother and I started bonding over music. It’s just the two of us siblings and he wound up being the better musician in the long run. He started on violin (his choice) then moved on to guitar (also his choice) at which point I picked up bass so we could jam together. We started a band together and the rest is history
Who are your inspirations or influences?
My first favorite band was Rage Against the Machine, but major formative influences of the 90’s beyond the generality of the genres mentioned earlier are Hum, Radiohead, and lots of grunge. My first major concert in Roanoke,VA was No Doubt/Goo Goo Dolls/Bush. And I got a black eye in the mosh pit. Basically the only black eye I’ve ever gotten. I had a great time! (Even though I got caught under a crowd surge and thought I was going to die for about 30 seconds, but other than that…). Later I got out of my angry phase and got into Phish, which is still my favorite band. And in my hippie music connections I’ve also enjoyed exploring and falling in love with reggae, afrobeat, and have doubled back to blues and jazz. I even dabble in country, but I’ve never played any with any of my bands. Just with friends and family. I’ve written some country stuff tho!
What advice would you offer aspiring performers?
Find ways to be yourself while at the same time offering something that no one else is offering or can offer. Surround yourself with people who help you grow and will allow you to get out of your comfort zone. And, unless it’s an issue of time constraint, make sure you keep all your options open. Play music with as many different people in as many different genres as possible. Your art and your fans will thank you
How do you set yourselves apart from other bands or singers?
I’m trying to build a prolific legacy as an independent musician. I’m trying to cross as many genres as I feel coming from my natural creative state, and say things that are familiar but haven’t been said loud enough or haven’t been said at all. It’s clear to me that all contemporary art must build on the art before it— we don’t live in a vacuum—but there IS a vacuum inside each of us which, as substantial pieces escape, can only relate, react, and combine to the outside world through its natural chemistry. I believe my understanding of that chemistry sets me apart. It means understanding history, interpersonal relationships, and being willing to dive deep into self-introspection
Any new gigs or albums in the future?
Seedpicker is going through some lineup changes. Our keyboard player, Paul, has MS and was diagnosed with cancer this year, which he is fighting admirably. So he’s playing with his more regular acts right now. We are bringing in a different drummer, Brian McKee, whom I play with in Rare Chocolate (neo-soul and jazz), and David will probably be back on hand drums on some of our larger Seedpicker Conglomeration shows. In the meantime, Brian is an awesome drummer! And I’m looking forward to developing some great stuff with him as part of Seedpicker, Rare Chocolate, and my solo project Gustopher Robin. I hope to have an album out with at least one of those outfits this year! If I can manage an album with all three I will. And with all the other musicians I play with in these groups, Henry, John, and Willis (all of whom play guitar and Willis also plays sax), it should be an amazing journey! We already have gigs in January and February in and around Roanoke, VA, our home base, and I’m planning to book us from Bristol to RVA to OBX this year! Our album Virginia Rhapsody has been streaming since 2020 on all major platforms and I have another remix from that album to release soon also, but as a hobby musician life has been crazy with other things so hopefully very soon; but it’ll happen when it’s supposed to.