Local Musician Check-in: Luke Wilson

Posted on July 24, 2013 by


luke wilsonLuke Wilson is the definition of down-to-earth. Singer, songwriter, musician, friend, and brother (he is the 4th “SON of Bill”), Luke plays music for the enjoyment of bringing songs to people. In an attempt to shine some hope and distraction from everyday life, Luke plays his music knowing that it’s more than just strumming a guitar and singing some words.

This small town boy has spent his years in this town developing and honing his craft, and for this week’s check-in, I was able to speak to him about his journey and his new project, The Dericks.

A Q&A with Luke Wilson

Tell us a little about yourself: Where are you from? If not Cville, when did you come here?

I was born and raised in Albemarle County. I went to Western Albemarle High School, then to UVA, and I’ve been in Charlottesville for the most part since then. If you can’t tell, I really enjoy living here.

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

Most mornings growing up, I would wake up to the sound of my Dad playing old blues and folk songs in the living room of our house. He was really into Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Watson, and Tom Rush, amongst others. That was my initial exposure to music and probably why I started playing music. Following in my father’s (as well as my three older brother’s) footsteps, I decided to start playing guitar when I was fifteen years old. Since then, I’ve picked up harmonica and piano, but I still play mostly acoustic guitar during live performances.

Most influential artist. Child? Teen? Adult?

Child: Metallica (My first album was the Black Album by Metallica. I was in 2nd Grade. My parents were not aware I was becoming a little metal head.)

Teen: Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here are still two of my favorite albums of all time.)

Adult: Townes Van Zandt (As I got older I started listening to a lot of country, bluegrass, and singer–songwriters. Most importantly I discovered Townes Van Zandt who is a Texas singer-songwriter. It completely changed my whole outlook on what kind of music I wanted to make.)

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

I didn’t write my first real song until I was 17. I had just graduated high school and was getting ready to leave home and spend a year in Farmville, VA. The song is called “One Horse Town.” It’s about fear of the unknown future and nostalgia for the past. It’s still one my favorite songs that I’ve written, and it’s the only song I’ve ever written that has a bridge in it.

What influences your writing?

I find that reading fiction really inspires my writing. Some of my favorite authors are Walker Percy, Flannery O’Connor, Dostoevsky, and most recently Andre Dubus. Other than that, I’m constantly listening to music and going to see live shows in town.

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

My first gig was in 2006 at a festival in Greenwood called Jonesfest that was thrown together by my friend Henry Jones. I was in a band called Little Dipper and the Volvo Jockeys. It was definitely one of the highlights of my senior year. I knew afterwards that performing live music was something I had to keep doing.

Do you get pumped or nervous pre-show?

I definitely feel a combination of both. I used to beat myself up about how nervous I would get before shows. Now, pre-show nerves just serve as a reminder that I’m about to do something that is important enough to me to get nervous about, and I use that energy to try to put on the best performance that I can.

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

It varies. I’ve befriended a lot of songwriters over the years and there is definitely no formula to follow. The biggest challenge seems to be to continue to remind yourself why you started playing music and performing in the first place, and in doing so you help yourself deal emotionally with the many sacrifices you have to make in order to pursue music as a career. That and working a lot of less-than-appealing part time jobs!

the dericksWhat 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 think Todd Snider put it best at his show at The Jefferson Theater when he said, “I hope this show serves as a 90 minute distraction from your impending doom!” I thought that was hilarious, and true. In all seriousness though, I hope my music not only gives people brief respite from the practical concerns of daily life, but also gives them hope in whatever small way music can give people hope. I know it helps me through every single day, and if some of that rubs off on other people than I’m doing my job.

What does the not-so-distant future hold for Luke Wilson?

Right now I’m in a band called Luke Wilson and The Dericks with Scotty Derrico, Stan Marshall, and Landon Fishburne. I think we’re making the best music I’ve ever been a part of, and I’m really excited about that. In the last few months we’ve been touring up and down the east coast and I have no plans to stop anytime soon.

Describe yourself in 10 words.

Just as lost as everybody else on God’s green earth.