Playing this weekend to SOhO Restaurant and Music Venue, we’re stoked to bring you this story about our friend Huckle that first appeared in Volume 2 (Winter) of LoaLiving Magazine. Huckle will be hitting the stage Saturday, April 20th with long time jam band the Mother Hips. Y’all ready to groove this Earth Day weekend? Enjoy!
Determined to raise awareness through his music and connect with his community on a deeper level, Huckle leaped from the edge of security into the uncertain world of independent artist. The Northern California-based singer/songwriter – who was bestowed the family nickname Huckle by a young niece who couldn’t pronounce uncle – started his new band with both the convictions and musical hunger for diversity that reach beyond the typical ambitions of many other artists.
Huckle’s band mixes an intoxicating brew of mellow acoustics with lightning bolts of electrified music alongside blues, folk, country and jazz influences. His main instrument of choice is his Weissenborn acoustic lap steel guitar (which he built himself because the original 1920’s Weissenborns are far too expensive for the musician’s budget). He also loves to play a number of other instruments, including his two Taylor acoustic guitars (a 6 string and a 10 string), and his open back Nechville banjo. Huckle chooses each instrument to “create an emotive landscape that expresses both music and lyrics.”
An avid surfer, skier, skateboarder, climber and hang glider pilot, Huckle states, “The soundscape of my music is influenced by the sense of rhythm and movement I feel when engaging in those various elements of earth, water and air.” Specifically, Huckle explains how his song “The Ocean” depicts a near-death experience he had surfing. The song progresses from the sounds of water and paddling rhythms, to being inside the barrel and narrowly surviving a violent wipeout, to the final release from the wave. Humbled by the power of nature, Huckle’s full surrender to the elements is embedded in the root of all his songs.
The venerable Jimi Hendrix was Huckle’s earliest musical influence; Huckle still remembers being a young teenager listening to “Stone Free” and how the album sparked a desire to create an electric vibe he could call his own. Later, real-life connections also influenced Huckle, including Zach Gill, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson and Tim Bluhm of The Mother Hips. In 2005, Huckle met John Butler, who became both a fast friend and mentor. Butler introduced him to splitting multiple pick-ups and routing them in a way that allowed an acoustic and electric sound to come through at the same time. Butler also introduced him to using acrylic fingernails – yes, those actual acrylic fingernails – helping Huckle to expand his picking style for an even more unique sound. Ever grateful to his mentor, Huckle says that Butler’s tutelage allowed him to “connect the wooden tonality and the versatile gear of electric sound.”
Beyond Huckle’s goal to achieve the kind of musical diversity that can represent his song’s moods and meanings, is the intent to “encourage people to engage in dialogue about important social and environ- mental issues so that they can form their own opinions.” Huckle seeks to create a positive message through his music because he feels that “sound penetrates deep into the heart and connects with people on an emotional and instinctual level.”
Huckle hopes that his music will inspire people to turn their positive intentions into action. His songs touch upon a number of issues. The lyrics in “Our Song” are about paying respect to both perspectives of war – from the stance of conscientious objector to a fallen soldier explaining his reason for choosing to fight and die for what he believed in. In “Walkabout,” Huckle talks about the Australian eugenics program of the early 20th century when the government tore aboriginal children from their parents and adopted them to white families in hope of erasing the culture. And in “Boomerang,” Huckle addresses how the choices we make affect others and the world around us.
In order to make all this happen, Huckle happily embraced personal sacrifice. He walked away from years of creative and economic security, leaving behind a career with a well-established band and agency. With it, he also left the comfort of a 40-foot bus and hotels to tour in a minivan and camp in tents. He sought help from Kickstarter.com, a website offering a platform for artists to engage with their community and raise funds for their projects. Huckle identified backers who believed in his message and provided the economic means to launch both his recording band (the new album “Wooden Melodies” includes ALO drummer Dave Brogan, harmonies from Tim Bluhm, guest turns from Nicki Bluhm, ALO’s Zach Gill and Lebo) as well as his touring band (which includes bassist Murph and drummer Ezra Lipp).
Now, Huckle not only appreciates the freedom to write music supporting social responsibility, but also creates “an entertaining musical environment that couples local causes that I resonate with.” Embracing the philosophy that “people really do want to help,” Huckle began Music for Food, which he and Marmot (an outdoor clothing and gear company) are working on together. Music for Food is a grass-roots program where people donate food at each Huckle concert and receive free music in return. After each gig, Huckle enjoys delivering the donations to the town’s local food bank – a simple act that validates his choice to follow his dream instead of the dollar.
By Tracy Shawn, LoaLiving contributing author