A few summers ago, when I made the decision to move to Hilton Head, I arrived a very broken man. I remember packing up my car, unsure of what this next chapter would be like, and having this overwhelming feeling of defeat. I had previously lived in Brooklyn and worked on 5th Avenue as a retail manager for Guess. During that time, my best friend and I were close to finishing off our 16-song concept album, which we had been working on for the better part of eight years. We both received our recording arts degrees from Fullsail University in 2005 and had been recording all our songs ourselves. In short, the two of us had an ugly falling out and went our separate ways.
I eventually moved back home to Pottstown, Pa., and spent the next year hibernating in my parent's basement and wasted far too much time feeling sorry for myself. I not only lost my best friend and all the music I had put my blood, sweat and tears into for the last decade, but I had also lost my identity and resigned to the thought that this music thing was over for me. So after months and months of soul-searching, my sister Kacie, who had been living on Hilton Head the past five years, suggested I move to the island and start fresh.
As I waited for my sister to close on her new home, which was where I planned to live, I got a call from John Cranford who had been currently looking for a new roommate at the time. We had met briefly on my last visit and got along pretty well so I decided to jump at the opportunity. A month later, I found myself driving over the Cross Island Bridge into Hilton Head and I remember being a bit taken back by the islands beauty, which was a much-needed distraction from the heat wave I was driving through, but beautiful nonetheless. I got a warm welcome from my new roommate and all of the friends I had kept in touch with after multiple visits to the island in the past.
Over the next year, I was introduced to a long list of characters, which included a number of local musicians who I really looked up to and respected, and still do. I had played in a few bands before moving here, but never quite built up the courage to do a solo acoustic act, That was until I was offered a chance from Roy Prescott to play at his bar, Remy's. My sister and I came up with the clever title, “Tuesday with the Templetons,” where I played my songs while she tended bar. My confidence playing solo in front of an audience was a huge obstacle for me, but all the love I was shown from local musicians and friends, was truly the main reason I was able to overcome this awful stage fright.
Everything seemed to be off to a great start up until the off-season hit and I fell into another really bad funk. It wasn't long before I retreated back into my shell again. I was on the verge of another breakdown when John came wrapping at my door, angry that I hadn't left my room in days and sat me down for a serious talk. I don't quite remember exactly what was said but I can recall feeling a huge relief and somewhere within that conversaion he offered me a job running merchandise for his band Cranford & Sons. I accepted the position and from there I spent the next six or seven months observing what it was like to be “on the road,” something I had not yet experienced. John, Eric Reid, Phil Sirmans and Randy Rockalotta became like brothers to me and showed me what it was to work really hard for what you believe in, which is something I still carry around with me today.
As grateful as I was for the opportunity, at the end of the day, I still considered myself an artist. So when they played Heritage last year, I sat begrudgingly, watching them on stage from the merch booth, and realized it was time for me to begin working towards my own aspirations. Soon after, Randy also left the band to pursue other ventures and asked if I would like to come jam with him and his friend C.W. Jameson. Eventually, after a few jam sessions and the addition of guitarist John Wilkins, the four of us formed the band MOB. I had finally found a band of my own and was feeling really good about playing again. We've even begun recording our album at The Sound studio with Greg Critchley, which has been one of the most exciting things to happen since arriving here.
Back in Pottstown, I could have never imagined a life like the one I have now, one saturated in music and dance, surrounded by family and friends, and friends who are like family, living in a quaint, quiet neighborhood, in a modest house with my beautiful girlfriend, on an island in the sun. It was a dark time for me back then and I feel the island saved my life. That might be a bit over-dramatic, but it did give me my life back and I will forever be in it's debt. That is why I have devoted so much time and energy into giving that love right back.
One way I plan on doing that, which is something I've already put in motion, is shooting a documentary of the island told through the history of its music, from the spiritual hymns and prison songs in the colonial times of the Gullah, up to the present scene we have today. I've already employed the appropriate people to film it, but I am going to need help from the community to find the funding to make it a more of a reality. The more money I raise, betters the chances of making a high-quality, legitimate documentary that I can finish in a much shorter time-frame and in turn, has a better opportunity of reaching viewers on a national and international level.
If this project is successful, Hilton Head Island will not only be known as a beautiful resort destination with its lush golf courses and its great southern cuisine, but also for its colorful and unique music scene, making it even more attractive to potential island-goers. That kind of success, in the near future, will also warrant rewards for the local community as a whole, especially the Food and Beverage industry, where everyone can benefit. My goal of $20,000 to complete this project will be financed through donations on Kickstarter and will be open for donations until midnight on June 14. For more information on the documentary you can visit Kickstarter.com and search keyword: Hilton Head Island: a Music Documentary.