What first inspired you to pick up a guitar?
I got my first guitar when I was 12 or 13. It as a Yamaha acoustic 6-string. I believe it was a Christmas present from my parents. I got my first electric, a Fender Bullet, when I was 15, a birthday present from my parents. The guitar came with 10 lessons from Schmitt Music. Then I took lessons from Adam Granger at the Homestead Pickin' Parlor with my d's when I was in high school in the late 1980s. I wanted to learn to play but like Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix.
My dad also took lessons with Adam Granger. I stopped taking lessons in 1990 when I went to the University of St Thomas from 1990-1994. I just started taking lessons with Adam again about 2 years ago.
How do you develope and evolve your musicianship at guitar, harmonica, and vocals?
I practice at least 2 hours every day. When I don't have a gig I usually practice 4-5 hours per day. I develop my playing by learning new songs, scales, techniques, and improvising while playing at my gigs, as well as taking guitar lessons.
Do you learn music mostly from chords, tabs, sheet music, by ear or some combination of those?
I learn mostly by tab, lessons, instructional videos, as well as by ear. I have been trying to learn more by ear. In the past, I mostly learned by guitar tab in tablature books as well as online and with tablature-based computer programs. Playing with other people also helps to develop learning, skills, and musicianship.
With so many gigs how do you stay passionate with each performance?
I stay passionate because I do what I love and play the music I love to play. I also mix up my songs a lot and learn new songs. I probably have a repertoire of round 1,000 songs. There are a couple hundred that I play regularly at my gigs. The other 800 or so song get mixed in depending on my mood and what I feel like playing. I also mix in some of my originals. And I am constantly trying to improve what I already do. I try to mix in a few new licks here and there.
I see you perform some originals. When you write a song do you start with chords & riffs or with the words?
When I write original songs I usually start with a chord progression and/or a riff. Occasionally I will have lyrics in mind and then come up with the chords and riffs.
Do you have any somewhat obscure musicians who inspire you?
There are many local musicians inspire me. I learn a lot at open Mic nights. I also occasionally go to other musician's gigs. Listening and watching other musicians can inspire me when writing songs, as well as trying and developing techniques. A few people who I admire are Adam Granger (my guitar teacher), Dave Coffell, Adam Hammer, Nathan Ness, Leon Laudenbac
Sometimes listening to music I don't usually listen to: an artist or genre I don't usually listen to, can be a source of inspiration for songwriting and coming up with riffs and chord progressions.
Were you in any bands in years past?
I have been in a few bands over the years. Most don't last long for me. I don't like being tied down to other people's agenda. Being a one-man band gives me the freedom to play what I want to play and make my own schedule. I do play with a couple other musicians at some of my gigs. Right now, I play 15-20 gigs per month with another guy, Joel, who plays trumpet, piano, and sings. We call ourselves B & B (which stands for Brix and Bartos, our last names)
Tell me a little about your music gear.
I currently play a Taylor 210 model guitar which I purchased in 2016. I have 2 Mackie powered speakers which I also purchased in 2016. I purchased these with the help of Tri-Cap, an organization in Stearns County, through a program that helps low-income start-up entrepreneurs, as well as college students and first time home owners. It was a two year savings plan in which for every dollar I saved, Tri-Cap added 3 dollars. In those 2 years I saved up $4,000 which I used to buy my guitar and sound system.
And lastly, how can someone book you for a gig?
If someone wants to book me for a gig, all they have to do is call or message me at 320-420-0704 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. They cab view my website where I have videos of me performing, a list of some of the songs I perform, and my current schedule. I also give guitar lessons at my home in St Cloud, MN.