On this week’s Music Spotlight, we feature a musician who is a local Franklin County resident. Introducing, Mike Quinlivan.
At an early age, Mike fell in love with music. As a young boy, he loved singing, and soon became intrigued by the expressive sound of stringed instruments. Starting on violin and viola, what ultimately grabbed his attention was the guitar. The variety of guitar music surrounded him, and it became the instrument he set out to master.
Growing up, Mike surrounded himself with many varieties of musical genres with blues and jazz piquing his interest the most. The musical works of jazz composers like Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, and Jim Hall opened his mind to the world of possibilities in music. Soon to follow were world-renowned jazz and blues guitar players, Robben Ford, Mike Stern, and John Scofield. Then there was the innovative playing of early jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery and the raw and highly emotional playing of the great Rory Gallagher that really fed the fuel to Mike’s fire. All of these musicians set the stage on which Quinlivan wanted to walk.
There was something about jazz that seemed so freeing and expressive. It gave Mike the creative reigns that he so desperately desired. Jazz music emphasizes improvisation, and that aspect of jazz music really appealed to Quinlivan. It is certainly apparent when he is performing live.
When performing live, the music becomes a state of meditation for this musician. This is mainly as a direct result of Mike’s improvised nature of playing. When playing, he has one goal he always aims to achieve. In his words, “I try to achieve a level of musicianship where I am no longer playing music and instead, having a conversation.” In Mike’s experience, this is when he witnesses audience members dance, smile, or pensively contemplate human existence. “That’s when the music is happening”, Quinlivan says, “otherwise, it is almost like some one just listening to a radio or a record.” There is no change, no variation. Improvisation is like adding spice to a meal, making it tasty and something to remember.
Mike will soon be releasing his debut EP titled Blue Gadjo on every major streaming platform and frequently posts videos on Instagram so be sure to follow him at @mikequinlivanmusic. Mike Quinlivan is also an active music educator, teaching privately and at Cumberland Valley School of Music.
On this week’s Music Spotlight, the focus is thrown to a humble musician who enjoys sharing his passion and superb talent with those around him. Welcome Pnut to the Music Spotlight Family!
Arnold “Pnut” Small is a local musician residing in the historic area of Gettysburg in Adams County, PA. He is originally from New Hampshire and then moved to Florida at the age of 15 before making his way to PA. According to his wife, Babs Small, Pnut has been tickling guitar strings since he was about 6 or 7 years old. Since then, Pnut has utilized his time mostly for honing and sharpening his skills as a guitar player. The results certainly ring true when watching him in a live setting. His playing is articulate and well thought out. It is almost surgical to the point where he knows when a quick, wordy guitar run is necessary for the integrity of a tune. Then again he also knows when less is more, keeping his playing to simple melodies and guitar licks.
During his time living in Florida, Pnut grew an infatuation for southern rock, mostly at the hands of Lynyrd Skynyrd. That is not to say that influences stop there. His uncle Roy taught him the importance of practice and diligence. And Roy gave Pnut clear instruction on how to do it properly. At the age of 12, Roy recruited young Pnut for his band Franklin Falls Junction. Eventually, Pnut was introduced to the world of Bluegrass thanks to another mentor by the name of Leslie “Bozo’ Keyser. A big bluegrass guy, Bozo was integral in fostering Pnut’s love for music. In Keyser’s eyes, music was to be felt not just played.
Through Pnut’s career as a musician, he has collaborated and played in many bands. Two reputable bands worth mentioning would be Sabotage and Jakob Kane. He has also had the honor of sharing the stage with well known acts like Greg Allman, Marshall Tucker Band, Jimmy Hall, the Oak Ridge Boys and many, many more. Currently, he plays lead guitar and provides vocals for a band called “From the Grey” which is a 5 piece band out of Adams County. They are on Facebook and Instagram so be sure to search them through both platforms!
By nature and through his experiences as a musician, Pnut has become an incredibly humble musician and individual. It shows through his passion and attitude. Pnut says that without the people and fellow musicians around him, he is nothing. He certainly does not want to or intend to take any one for granted. To him, connections are priceless. Whether he is playing for one individual or one hundred individuals, he always makes an honest attempt to play like he is playing for a million people.
If you want to know more about Pnut, he is on Facebook both via his personal page as well as through connecting with his band From the Grey. Here is a short clip of him playing at a Welcome Center in Virginia! Check out his music here!
On this week of Music Spotlight, another fine Franklin County musician and singer stands in the spotlight; meet Mr. Drew Adams.
A Waynesboro native, Drew Adams is a freelance musician who has been part of the live music scene in the area for many years. His axe of choice is the bass guitar. On the other hand, when he is playing solo or with another musician, he can be seen strumming the six strings of his Taylor T5 acoustic electric guitar. Drew has also filled in on drums from time to time for numerous musicians and bands. Currently, Adams plays in the band Sundog Ritual, On Tap Duo, and under the name of Drew Adams Acoustic when performing solo. Back in 2006, Drew also graduated from the AudioWorks Program at the Sheffield Institute for the Recording Arts in Phoenix, MD.
Rock music of the 1990s is the driving force behind Drew’s musical motivations. For him, there was just something about the music and its characteristics during the decade. Rock music was dramatically changing. Punk rock, the grunge movement, and 90s alternative rock were blossoming with unique artists and bands. According to Adams, Weezer, REM, and Harvey Danger are just a handful of the bands that grabbed his attention the most. The most notable influence would be Green Day. Green Day was a band that was redefining punk rock and music composition all throughout the decade and into the early 2000s.
Drew’s musical influences are not limited to the 90s rock movements, however. As a true music lover and cover musician, he very much enjoys music from decades past. He certainly appreciates big hit bands and songs from the late 1970s and early 80s. The Knack is one such band between those time periods that captivated Drew. During a performance from this man, listeners will also catch a few tunes from the 40s, the 50s, and even a few songs from the late 1800s!
What does Drew get out of doing music? According to him, “music is a great release from the stresses and day-to-day concerns endured every day. It’s also a healthy way to take one’s mind off things that usually end up being not as big of a day as we thought they were.” Sometimes he will be minding his business in public and then the perfect song comes on somewhere around him. Immediately afterwards, all weight upon his shoulders gently slides right off and onto the ground. That situation is what Drew hopes to provide to those listening to his performances. For him, leaving a gig and receiving praise and “thank yous” from listeners is more than fulfilling. Ultimately, to be able to perform for a living is a dream. It also keeps him busy between carrying out marketing tasks and goals as well as focusing on music production and editing. It’s a never ending cycle of imagination and creativity.
At the moment, Drew Adams is working on building his YouTube page. For the time being, he can be found on Facebook by searching “Drew Adams” where he posts gig updates and all things music related!
There is a new group building a reputation in the area! This particular group was also one of 2020 A’Cappella Unplugged’s contestant groups.
Pyxus is brother-duo out of Mechanicsburg, PA. When it comes to singing, both brothers Jake and Robert Myers share the role of vocals. The difference between the two is their instrumental roles in the duo. Robert Myers utilizes the high-pitched, twangy, and folky sound of the Mandolin whereas his brother Jake plays a flat top acoustic guitar. Together, the brothers of Pyxus have begun developing their sound and style.
According to Robert, he says they are trying to carve out their spot in the world of Newgrass. Newgrass is a genre of bluegrass that acquires influence from crossing genres like rock and roll and blues music with a touch of jam-band for added flavor. Pyxus’ sound is also heavily defined by the progressive folk movement. Covers will sound familiar to the listener but tends to be slightly altered with style by the band. As they progress in defining their sound and branching out from their comfort zones, the two brothers also hope it will evolve ultimately evolve folk music and bluegrass collectively.
For the brothers of Pyxus, a variety of bands and musicians from the bluegrass and folk world play into the sculpting of their sound. Two soloist composers worth mentioning would be Chris Thile and Molly Tuttle. Chris Thile also played in a group named Punch Brothers who are a notable influence. Other notable groups would be the Kruger Brothers, The Arcadian Wild, Mumford and Sons, Porch Dawg Revival, and the Jeff Little Trio.
To the brothers of Pyxus, playing music is fulfilling. They love seeing the looks of appreciation on the faces of audience members. To them, the connection between musician and listener is pure satisfaction. It ignites the fire to their dedication and determination to their craft.
To learn more about Pyxus, consider checking them out on facebook and give them a like! Go to the desired search engine and search www.facebook.com/pyxusmusic. Most video posts and event updates are posted on that page. But for a little taste, here they are performing their tune “Beauty In The Eyes Of The Beholder” check it out here.
Music Spotlight presents a unique Gettysburg-native musician and songwriter. Like so many of the previous features, music resonates with her on an emotional and sacred level. Introducing: Bekah Foster.
Bekah grew up in a musical family. The music that flowed from her family surrounded her and enthralled her. At a young age, watching live performances was commonplace. It awakened something in her. Amongst all of the instruments and parts making up the performance, the voice is what caught her attention. She fell in love with singing. She says, “I’ve always loved to sing, ever since I can remember.” However, it was not until she started performing in front of audiences that things changed. Performing live deeply resonated with her and truly began sculpting her voice and refining her songwriting.
Bekah Foster’s playing and writing style resides mostly in the world of jazz. She incorporates intricately voiced chords into her song composition. Her instrument of choice is a classical guitar as the nylon and nickel strings offer and project a more warm, ear-pleasing sound that pairs well with her soulful, soft, yet powerfully controlled voice. Finger picking also plays a large part in defining her style as it allows her to creatively pick through notes within her chords of choice. Bekah pulls influence Andy Mckee, The Reign of Kindo, Corinne Bailey Rae, Josh Groban, Melody Gardot, Bebel Gilberto, and Dario Marianell, all of which are worth a listen. Through all of these influences as well as her affinity for songwriting and performing live, Bekah Foster has quite literally developed her own individual sound and style.
Bekah does have a fully recording album. It can be listened to on her YouTube page. Simply search “Rebekah Foster” and it should be the first profile listed. The name of the album is “Empty Sky”. Here is a little taste of her music. This track is titled after the album name!
This week’s Music Spotlight focuses on a band primarily from the Carlisle area made up of some fathers and a mother. Introducing The Gregorys.
The Gregorys is Brett Rudder, Aaron Lepley, John Hope, and Colleen Hertzler. Like many other parents, these individuals don’t have much time at their disposal. Their lives are composed of the typical parental responsibilities: chauffeuring children around, feeding mouths, mowing lawns (when the season requires it), and fulfilling common home maintenance chores. But when their packed schedules have the slightest window of free time, they are hard at work practicing music and creating. Each member is a songwriter, bringing varying abilities in the to the table. The end result is a group with a truly collaborative nature. This is also supported by their band-held belief that humans were created to create.
The band’s influences vary greatly as well. Artist and band inspirations are spurred by acts like Townes Van Zandt, Blaze Foley, Jars of Clay, Beach Boys, Eagles, Creed, Hank Williams, Pink Floyd, and Hot Jam Factory. The folk and Americana movement, and the “Dad Rock” has been a driving force in shaping the harmony-driven, and acoustic-based sound of The Gregorys. Their music also captures their appreciation for God, love, and the motions of life. A live show will consist of originals with the occasional deep-cut cover with a twist.
In their eyes, they are not studied poets or accomplished musicians. However, for The Gregorys, connecting with the audience is number one. Music is something that affects each individual audience member differently. That connection between audience and creator is an added benefit to expressing themselves. In the words of front man, Brett Rudder, “We’re simple people, with simple lives, sharing our simple songs.” And sometimes, simple is more than enough to provide an excellent and entertaining listening experience.