Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Catching Up With: Joshua Black Wilkins

I first came across Joshua when I was looking for a new archtop...kind of a funny way to run across someone, but I guess that's music, right? He intrigued me, so I checked out his music...was hooked...then checked out his photography...was enthralled...then caught his live set last year at Joe Fletcher's 'Nashville to Newport' at NFF. I was immediately made a hardcore fan and I think I made a friend for life. We have kept in touch over the past months and it turned out that he is finally making his way through town. He is headlining a great bill at Atwood's Tavern (http://www.atwoodstavern.com/) in Cambridge on March 25th. Two weeks from today. His music is great, it has an edge to it but still his songwriting is captivating and poignant. Country attitude tinged with haunting folk vibes, its just good stuff. Really, really good stuff. This is going to be an amazing night of music capped off with his performance, be sure to make it out for this one.

1. In a short phrase, describe your sound and what makes you unique. Be it inclusive of influences, your voice, guitar picking style...all that kind of stuff.

JBW: Haunting sounds of Tom Waits, the iconic swell of Bruce Springsteen and the fever of rebellion in Johnny Cash

2. Within Boston and this style of music, there has been a large community building over the past couple of years. I know that there is a similar situation on the east side of the river down in Nashville. Tell us about your experiences living there and mingling with those folks
 JBW: East Nashville is a huge melting pot of extremely talented musicians in many different genres of music. And with any creative community, those people blend their styles and gifts with everyone, so East Nashville doesn't have a "sound" as much as a level of talent that can be overwhelming to anyone/anywhere else.

3. Any particular Nashville songwriters that you would like to turn a broader audience on to?
JBW: Derek Hoke for sure. Now that Joe Fletcher lives here, and Brett Detar just moved to Nashville too from LA, I'm pretty excited that the talent pool is increasing.

4. You have a pretty decent backlog for people to dive into. How has your sound honed itself over the past couple of records? What kind of a set up and sound can people expect to hear at one of your shows on this particular tour?
JBW: I moved to Nashville in Oct 2002 and played with a Rock-a-billy band, and my first two records, 'Black Boots and A Suitcase' and '17th and Shelby', represented that time.  I spent 2.5 years on Lower Broadway at Layla's Bluegrass Inn. I left that scene to focus more on playing rock clubs. I also spent a lot more time studying songwriting and improving on that craft.
   Now that I only tour solo, I've spent the past several years really working on making the "guy with an acoustic guitar" show more interesting to watch/listen to. Playing solo shows has made me a much better guitar player and singer because there isn't anyone else to hide behind (or in front of).  

5. Aside from being a heck of a songwriter, you also are a brilliant photographer. Tell me about how
those two worlds overlap. Is there anything from one that you bring into the other art?
JBW: 9 years ago, I had no intention of being a professional photographer. It had been a hobby since the mid 90's, and I took it up the same time I got into music.
   After moving to Nashville, I would shoot my friends playing music, and then quickly started shooting general publicity stuff for my friends. Then money got involved.
   Only in the past couple years have I let those two worlds coexist.  I have certainly gained followers for music through my photography credits, and vis-versa.  Thankfully I have been able to balance my photography jobs with touring. As a rule, I don't shoot commercial jobs while on tour, but do try to always shoot personal work when I travel.
  A lot of people do make some connections between both of my careers when it comes to subjects and mood and emotion. It isn't intentional,  but I do see why/how the connections are made.
   Music is, and has always been first my priority career, but photography has certainly allowed me to work with some of the very best musicians the world has ever known, and I have never taken that for granted. 


Again Joshua will be in town on Tuesday, March 25th at Atwoods Tavern, 877 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA. Also on the bill are Sarah Borrello and Brian Carroll (me, and everyone in the door gets a free download of my new record)

And check out Joshua online at:

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