Local Musician Check-in: Sam Cregger

Posted on May 15, 2013 by

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sam creggerSam Cregger may be a new voice in the Charlottesville local music scene, but his is a voice to look out for. Hailing from the metropolis of Arlington, VA, his indie folk song vibe fits perfectly into the Cville music scene, and now he even writes on a farm. Here’s a little Q&A we had with him the other day for our latest Local Musician Check-in.

Tell us a little about yourself: where you’re from, and what brought you to Cville.

I was born and raised in Arlington, VA. I went to college in the North Shore of Massachusetts. In August 2011 I moved to Charlottesville and began working at Bellair Farm CSA and playing music on the side. Now I’m really starting to push my music career, I did a little tour in March and am thinking about another.

When and why did you start playing music/singing? What instruments do you play?

Technically, I began guitar when I was ten, but only for a month or two. I stopped and didn’t pick it up again until I was 14, when I heard “Blackbird” by The Beatles and I just had to learn that song. I play guitar and harmonica primarily to accompany my singing.

Most influential artist. Child? Teen? Adult?

I grew up listening to what my parents listened to; The Beatles, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Marley, and Jackson Browne. Then in middle school and into most of college I listened to a ton of Nickel Creek, Iron & Wine, Radiohead, Norah Jones and Death Cab for Cutie. But most recently, I’ve been on a Ray LaMontagne kick for a few years. But Lucinda Williams, Ryan Bingham (I was just front row at his show at The Jefferson, unbelievable), Damien Jurado and Damien Rice have been moving my soul, especially Lucinda! Willie Nelson is also just the greatest. Were you looking for just one artist? Impossible for me.

When did you write your first song/what was it about?

Technically, when I was about ten or eleven with my friend, Eric, we wrote a song called, “Mess with Texas.” It was the worst. I didn’t really know how to play the guitar, so for the recording I just played random palms on the guitar. And Eric sang and played drums on trash cans and my mom’s cooking sheets. But the first song I wrote by myself was when I was a freshmen in high school. It was about Lord of The Flies.

What influences your writing?

Depends on what I am writing. If it is personal, it’s whatever I’m going through at the time; whether it’s a family issue or a relationship. But I am a total sucker for the Wild West. I grew up watching John Wayne and Clint Eastwood with my grandfather. My brothers introduced me to the writing of Cormac McCarthy (especially “Blood Meridian”). And even the video game “Red Dead Redemption” had some influence. That was awesome because I got to live it! I wrote an Old Western triology, “The Legend of John Duphrane” (on my album, “Wanderlust”), “The Continuing Story of John Duphrane” and “John Duphrane’s Revenge” (The latter two will be on the next album). I have some of my most fun with those songs.

What aspects of life excite you and stir your affections, fuel your passions? (i.e. nature, heartbreak, joy, pain, relationships, serenity…)

Relationships definitely push me to write. Whether it is a relationship with a girl, my father, mother, or a close friend, I find myself writing a lot of songs about them. Most I don’t write down or record and rather keep to myself (or I forget them). But I mentioned that I work on a farm, and that, with being in nature all day, inspires me a lot. I also really want to move out west. And that is really what my first album, “Wanderlust,” is all about. I feel stuck/unsure where I am, and I want to go explore. I find that I’m still singing about that on my second album, which I have written but not recorded yet.

When did you play your first gig? What emotions and thoughts ran through your head after finishing?

I think it was in high school, my senior year. It was the worst. I cringe now thinking about it. My first thoughts were: where can I hide from everyone, and I’ll never do this again. I have never even told my mom about that show. I didn’t want her there. And not much has really changed after shows since.

Do you get pumped or nervous pre-show?

I would say I get pumped the four days before the show, and then the day of I begin to dread it and I get all sorts of self-doubt. I plan for it, obviously, to go really well. And then when I’m flat or sharp, or some other little mistake, I tend to beat myself up over it. So I think part of me dreads doing that afterwards, which isn’t a good thing to do, but I’m getting better about letting it go.

What does a day in the life of a modern day songwriter look like from your perspective?

Well, for me it’s a lot of work at my day job. I get up really early and end in the evening and don’t really have too much time to write or record. I recorded my album, “Wanderlust,” in the various homes I have lived in over the past year and a half. So my evenings then consisted of that. But for my next album, I really want to have professionally done, studio and all. So I need to raise some money, and part of that means getting shows. So I’m doing some emailing and such things. I want to get some college shows. That would be awesome. Do some more traveling, which is half the reason I want to play music for a living. I’m also trying to develop my voice a little more. Get a bit more comfortable being louder. Not that I think I need to be louder, but I seem to enjoy just belting something sometimes.

What do you want people to take from hearing your music? (As a fan, also what do you want people to take from experiencing your live show?)

I’ve never thought about that. I guess I just want people to connect with my personal songs. I hope they can relate. And I like to tell stories too. For example, the John Duphrane songs are fun for me, because I get to become someone else and I hope the lyrics entertain people as well. John Duphrane definitely isn’t a “good” guy.

Lastly… Describe yourself in 10 words. Be creative!

Introverted, Passionate, Prudent, Home-body, Wanderlust (not to push my album too much, but it’s true), Hard-working, Goofy, Nostalgic, Easy-going, Outdoorsy

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Check out Sam at Albemarle Ciderworks on May 19th from 3-5p and June 1st with Carl Anderson at Cville Niche hotspot Milli Joe from 7-9p. In the meantime, hear some of his tunes off of “Wanderlust” at www.samcregger.com.

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