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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Monday, January 9, 2012

The Long Road of a Young Musician: An interview with JL Fulks

I recently became acquainted with a very talented musician and after some discussions thought that his story may not only help his journey but also may help others who are traveling a similar path. JL Fulks grew up in Greenville , South Carolina and recently relocated to Boca Raton, Florida.

Bman: Hi JL. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. How long have you been playing guitar?

JL: Not a problem, I have been playing guitar for about 7 years now

Bman: So give me the story. How did this all begin?

JL: I joined Unsought Rejection with some friends in high school. We had some minor gigging success, and it was the first time I contributed to writing original music. We also won my high schools battle of the bands. We ended up recording a 5 song demo in a pro studio that came out decent. Everyone in the band stopped playing music shortly after that but me, but it was a good experience for me at that age.

Bman: Then about a year later you formed “Until Next Time” which won a Battle of the Bands contest and a few contract offers. I’m guessing that you really weren’t convicted with your band or with what you were playing.

JL: I formed Until Next Time with some other musicians that I thought were some of the best in Greenville at the time. I wrote 70% of the music and we ended up making a very solid set list. Having that set list and good original hard rock songs took us to Gorilla Productions battle of the bands. We won both rounds and were voted the best hard rock band in Greenville, SC at that time. Winning that opened up a lot of doors to contract offers and gigs. All of the contract offers were inadequate offers but it was a great experience learning about the music business and the law. The band had minor success and everyone else again quit playing but me.

Bman: I think that is the time people either start to get serious or find something else to do. So you got serious and started taking lessons from an instructor at University of South Carolina. How did that change your perception of music and what you were playing?

JL: After that band I really wanted to create music on my own and not depend on other people’s commitment. I wanted to get better so I could hang out and play with the best musicians around. I started taking private Jazz lessons from Adam Knight, a professor at USC Upstate. He really changed my thought process of creating music, and fixed a lot of bad habits. He helped me in my process of auditioning for Berklee, reading music, my blues song writing, my improvisation, and many other great aspects that are used in creating great music.

Bman: It's pretty obvious that you were a serious study and he was a good teacher. So now you’re starting to get opportunities to play with national talents and a few recording opportunities. I’ll bet that lit you up!

JL: Since I have moved to Florida I have played with many top notch musicians. I hit many of the Pro South Florida Blues jams at BB Kings, The Backroom, The Blue Boar, The Funky Buddha, etc. While attending these jams I have had the opportunity to play with International Blues Challenge winner JP Soars, Muggie Doo from Buddy Miles Express, and Julius Pastorius, the son of the great Jaco Pastorius. Also since I have been here I've had the opportunity to record with a pro reggae artist named Uncle Sam Di Foreign man on his 4th album.

Bman: Sounds like you're on your way. So now you’ve moved to Boca and are continuing your studies with Berklee Music, doing session work and giving lessons. And you’re looking for some mates to gig with who compliment you. Can you articulate who you’re looking for? Maybe they’re reading this!

JL: Studying at Berklee has really helped me become a better player. It has given me the discipline needed to sit down an practice 6-7 hours a day. I am looking to form a band with adequate musicians that have the same commitment to excellence. I really want to keep the blues alive with a new age rockin' South Florida blues band. I want to have many other styles mixed in as well such as rock, funk, and jazz. Unfortunately I have not come across the musicians I am looking for to create my dream band. I have been holding out, and in the mean time I plan to be involved with a few projects on the side such as a reggae band, and a duo acoustic act.

Bman: I know that it can be tough to find the right mix. Playing different styles and just staying active in the music scene... and keeping your writing juice going is huge.
My favorite guitar player in the world ,who shall remain nameless for this interview, indicated a few years back that he gets a sound in his head and just walks around the city trying to find someone who sounds like they have it. Now he has the fortune of being the best guitar player in the world and usually has one of the top few bass and drummers in the world in his band. But it always has to be a good match. If you watch him in his most recent (not current) band on Crossroads you can see the chemistry between his rhythm section and him …and how he is as much in awe of them as they are of him. That has to be a great feeling!

JL: It is a great feeling to master your instrument and get to share your heart and soul through music with the world. The more you practice, learn, hear, and play the better musician you will become.

Bman: Spoken like a true musician. I love it! I’ve heard a few tracks of you playing and I feel confident that once you connect with the right crew you’ll be unstoppable!

JL: Most of the tracks online are jams I have done all over south Florida with different musicians with no prior rehearsal before. I feel confident that when I get with the right people, I will be able to write more structured, theoretical, and progressive music. Having the right band will definitely put my foot forward in the music business.

Bman:I certainly agree! You recently had a special unplugged appearance on an Internet Radio station. How did that go?

JL: I was a special guest on the American Biker Talk Radio show. It is the biggest biker talk radio show in the world. I was able to perform 4 of my newly written original songs live on the radio. It went very well and to my surprise many people called in supporting me music, including the famous Jesse Ventura. There were 20,000 people viewing online, which marked the biggest crowd I have ever performed in front of.

Bman: I shared your link about the show on Facebook. Will you have access to a digital copy of the video of the show. I think it would be really cool to see for those who didn’t catch it!

JL:I have a video with no audio right now. I will be getting a professional audio copy of the whole show. I will upload it on my Youtube channel as soon as it get it!

Bman: I'll keep an eye out for that. I really appreciate your time. Your music sounds great. I hope that you find some mates soon. I know that a lot of my readers are ready for the next step!
Is there anything else that you’d like to share with your fans?

JL: Thanks a lot for interviewing me. I hope a lot of readers can use my advice to their advantage.

Bman: Best of luck pal and keep up the good work. Talk to you soon!

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