Kristopher James on the State of Music Scene, Struggling, and Trusting Others
As someone who grew up in Sarasota, Kristopher James Byerly admits that the challenges of making it as a musician in Sarasota have multiplied.
Most who know the music of Kristopher Byerly know him as a lone troubadour, songs that seem saturated in unrequited love and the residue of what could have been. Yet there is a magnetism to his voice, as well as the universal themes he touches on. Lately, he has been attracting other musicians.
Describing his schedule, which includes being the father of a two-year-old, as “bombastic,” and not wanting “to burden other musicians with my music,” Byerly has been a solitary singer songwriter since he began writing and performing. But friends have come to love his music, and he now plays regularly with Dan and Becca Shafer, adding electric guitar and violin into the mix, with Ryan Massey on percussion and Sean McInerney on the bass guitar.
“Playing with others is strange but invigorating.” says Byerly. “Different musicians can hear the same melody line and translate that into so many different ways. It's incredible to see how the creative process expands when you're able to trust others.”
Falling deftly into the “Folk/Americana/Soul” niche, Byerly’s unique sound comes through a journey of trial and error.
“In the year and a half I've been writing,” he says, “well over a hundred songs have been written and haven't made the cut because of style or content, or because it just didn't feel right.”
As someone who grew up in Sarasota, Byerly admits that the challenges of making it as a musician in Sarasota have multiplied.
“Since I was a punk kid going to Light Painters Gallery or Monterey Deli, I've always loved what Sarasota had going in the music scene.” professes Byerly. “It seems like Sarasota has been in flux for the last several years. Between venues opting for Parrot Head music and city limitations on volume, the original music scene has really taken a hit.”
For a music scene to survive here, Byerly says it will have to come from the fans.
“If you are able to get your body into a pub, venue, cafe... Do it. If you can shell out five bucks and forego a latte, buy an artists CD instead. If you're on Facebook, like and share the artists in Sarasota that make you proud of your city.”
Fueled largely by caffeine himself, he says that the example he sets as a performing artist is just as important as the music.
“If you want to do it, do it,” he says. “Find the means to do what you love and hustle hard.”
Though he seems to be his own worst critic, and faces the challenge of finding an audience just like any other struggling artist, Byerly admits that the payoff is well worth it because of what music gives back.
“No matter where it comes from, who it comes from, and when it comes from,” he says, “it has the ability to heal, strengthen, enrich and change lives.”
For more information, visit http://kristopherjames.bandzoogle.com/home