Crazy to say but it's been about 10 years since I first picked up my Grandpa's old guitar that had been collecting dust in our basement. I taught myself "Change" by Blind Melon and thought, hey.. this playing guitar things is pretty cool. I was working at a pizza place at the time and my boss (and good friend), Erich, had just recently introduced me to Townes Van Zandt, Robert Johnson, Son House, and the like. Throughout the years, I truly have had a love affair with every genre of music but at 17, felt like I was tapping into something new, something I hadn't experienced before.. and I wanted to dig a little deeper.
Erich came with me and my bag of delivery-driving tips one day and off we went to the guitar store where I got my first baby, a beautiful brown Alvarez with F holes, that just so happens to be about four feet away from me as I write this. He gave me a lesson or two, showed me some basic chords, and off I went to college. The next few years, I spent a lot of time in my little dorm, teaching myself songs and trying to figure out how to sing. I didn't know what I was doing but knew I enjoyed it. My favorite moments of any party or night with friends were always later on in the evening (or early morning), when everyone was nice and boozy and we would all sit around together and jam, whether it was "Last Dance With Mary Jane," "Sweet Virginia," "The General," "Gin and Juice".. we were just havin' fun and singing songs.
The first time I ever truly sang alone in front of people was at a birthday party my friends had thrown for me at an A-frame house we all used to hang out at.. the boys hadn't paid their electricity bill so there was no power. Candles were lit everywhere (which is kind of terrifying to think about, considering the amount of silly drunkards roaming around!) and my friend Todd started playing this song "Wagon Wheel," that at the time, I had just recently discovered. I started singing along and people stopped what they were doing and tuned in to us. It was one of those special moments that I'll never forget.
Time passed, people moved away, got married, had kids, and moved on and I just couldn't stop missing those good times we had playing tunes around bonfires and at house parties. That's when I knew that playing music was something I couldn't do without. I continued playing, even joined a band in California for a year or so, but got my true start in performing in the summer of 2015 when my dear friend, Sean, discovered my music and overwhelming stage fright and just started booking me for shows. Terrified I was, but that little push was what I needed.
This road has been long and it certainly comes with its ups and downs. There've been times where I hated music and wanted to give it all up.. but it always finds its way back. When it comes down to it, I don't want to get famous or live my entire life on the road or even sell out a venue (although that'd be cool!). My favorite performances have always been the intimate ones, where I can see every single smiling face, where I can talk back and forth with the crowd like it's a one on one conversation, and where it's all about just havin' fun and singing songs... that's all it's ever been about for me. Come out and hang with me sometime soon, I'd love to see you!
Photographs by Berlynn Lifestyle Photography